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A Poem by Dorothy Parker: Ballade of Unfortunate Mammals

 

Ballade of Unfortunate Mammals

Love is sharper than stones or sticks;
Lone as the sea, and deeper blue;
Loud in the night as a clock that ticks;
Longer-lived than the Wandering Jew.
Show me a love was done and through,
Tell me a kiss escaped its debt!
Son, to your death you’ll pay your due-
Women and elephants never forget.

Ever a man, alas, would mix,
Ever a man, heigh-ho, must woo;
So he’s left in the world-old fix,
Thus is furthered the sale of rue.
Son, your chances are thin and few-
Won’t you ponder, before you’re set?
Shoot if you must, but hold in view
Women and elephants never forget.

Down from Caesar past Joynson-Hicks
Echoes the warning, ever new:
Though they’re trained to amusing tricks,
Gentler, they, than the pigeon’s coo,
Careful, son, of the curs’ed two-
Either one is a dangerous pet;
Natural history proves it true-
Women and elephants never forget.

L’ENVOI

Prince, a precept I’d leave for you,
Coined in Eden, existing yet:
Skirt the parlor, and shun the zoo-
Women and elephants never forget.

 

Dorothy Parker

 

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