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A Poem by Dorothy Parker: Ballade Of A Talked-Off Ear

 

Ballade Of A Talked-Off Ear

Daily I listen to wonder and woe,
Nightly I hearken to knave or to ace,
Telling me stories of lava and snow,
Delicate fables of ribbon and lace,
Tales of the quarry, the kill, the chase,
Longer than heaven and duller than hell-
Never you blame me, who cry my case:
“Poets alone should kiss and tell!”

Dumbly I hear what I never should know,
Gently I counsel of pride and of grace;
Into minutiae gayly they go,
Telling the name and the time and the place.
Cede them your silence and grant them space-
Who tenders an inch shall be raped of an ell!
Sympathy’s ever the boaster’s brace;
Poets alone should kiss and tell.

Why am I tithed what I never did owe?
Choked with vicarious saffron and mace?
Weary my lids, and my fingers are slow-
Gentlemen, damn you, you’ve halted my pace.
Only the lads of the cursed race,
Only the knights of the desolate spell,
May point me the lines the blood-drops trace-
Poets alone should kiss and tell.

L’ENVOI

Prince or commoner, tenor or bass,
Painter or plumber or never-do-well,
Do me a favor and shut your face
Poets alone should kiss and tell.

 

 

Dorothy Parker

 

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