Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A HYMN OF HATE, by DOROTHY PARKER



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A HYMN OF HATE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I hate the drama
Last Line: It cuts in on my sleep.
Alternate Author Name(s): Rothschild, Dorothy
Subject(s): Dramatists; Hate; Ibsen, Henrik (1828-1906); Maeterlinck, Maurice (1862-1949); Plays & Playwrights; Poetry & Poets


I hate the Drama;
It cuts in on my sleep.

There is the Clean Play;
The one you take Aunt Etta to see
After a day's sightseeing in the financial district.
The hero is the man from Back Home,
With the blameless life and the creaseless trousers, --
A real rough rhinestone.
He may not be so strong on grammar,
But he loves children and sleeping outdoors.
The heroine sneers at him in Act I,
But after he has shown up the effete aristocracy,
And received news that they've struck oil
Back in the Little Marigold well,
She listens to reason.
And when the curtain falls at eleven o'clock,
They are starting out for the Great, Clean West together, --
Three hours too late.

Then there is the Comedy of Manners;
The manners provide most of the comedy.
It is all about the goings-on in titled circles, --
How Her Grace's handkerchief
Was found in Sir Arthur's diggings.
Tea flows like water,
Butlers are everywhere,
And there is practically no stint to the epigrams
About there being two kinds of husbands:
Your own, and the kind that is in love with you.
Everybody stands about,
Gesticulating with cucumber sandwiches,
And saying, "Oh, Lord Cyril, what a cynic you are!"
There is always a little country ingenue
Who tearfully goes back home in the last act,
Declaring that those society people are all rotten, --
She said it.

There is the Farthest North performance
Of the Play That Makes You Think, --
Makes you think that you should have gone to the movies.
It is translated from the Norwegian;
They might just as well give it in the original.
All the lighting is dim
So that actors' faces can scarcely be distinguished,
Which is doubtless all for the best.
The heroine is invariably Misunderstood, --
Probably because of her accent.
She is a regular little Glad Girl,
Always falling in love with an innocent bystander,
Or finding that she has married her uncle by mistake,
Or going into the night and slamming the door.
And things come to a rousing climax
In a nice, restful suicide, or a promising case of insanity.
You tell 'em, Ibsen; you've got the Scandinavian rights.

And there is the Allegorical Drama;
It becomes as sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.
The critics can always find subtle shades of meaning in it, --
The triumph of mind over Maeterlinck.
The actors play the parts
Of Light, Joy, Beauty and Imagination,
While the audience represent Ennui and Bewilderment.
The leading character is searching for Happiness,
And after hunting through four acts, twenty-seven scenes,
And a company of three hundred, exclusive of stage-hands,
He finally discovers it at home, --
Would to Heaven he had looked there in the first place!

I hate the Drama;
It cuts in on my sleep.





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