Little Words Poem Summary by Dorothy Parker

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Dorothy Parker is an American poet, screenwriter, storywriter, and critic known for her eye on the 20th century urban foibles. She was a known personality in Hollywood for her screenwriting, and was awarded many awards, and was twice nominated for Annual Academy Awards. She served in the editorial department of Vogue and Vanity Fair for a long period of time. Her first collection of poetry, Enough Rope was published in 1926, and was a bestseller. This poem is from one of her collections, where I am going to analyse the poem critically, and give a summary.


Little Words Poem Summary by Dorothy Parker

When you are gone, there is nor bloom nor leaf,
Nor singing sea at night, nor silver birds;
And I can only stare, and shape my grief
In little words.

In these lines, the poet is describing the winter season, and how everything becomes dead and gloom during this year. She is saying that there is no life in nature around her anymore. There is not a flower in the branches that bloomed, or any leaf in on the trees. The sea is silent in grief too, and there has been not a single bird in any branch which is singing or chirping.


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I cannot conjure loveliness, to drown
The bitter woe that racks my cords apart.
The weary pen that sets my sorrow down
Feeds at my heart.

The poet is speaking about the bitterness of loneliness that is tearing her apart inside. She is unable to express her views in a way that everyone could understand what she is going through or what she is feeling. Hence, she has taken a chance of taking her pen, and tries to write her feelings down in form of words, which would show what she feels and wants to say. Writing them down is the only way she could express her sorrow.

There is no mercy in the shifting year,
No beauty wraps me tenderly about.
I turn to little words- so you, my dear,
Can spell them out.


The poet here says that the phenomena of changing weather in a year are a cruel process, where the parts of nature die. The shift to winter brings gloom and sadness, as everything turns lifeless and cold. She tries to shape her feelings into words so that she could tell us what exactly she feels and open her heart to us, and narrow them down into words.

This poem is also seen in the context of death and loss. The poet has beautiful used metaphors from nature to express loneliness and sadness. Parker is trying to say that there is no measure of the sadness inside her heart, and she has tried to write them down in form of words to express how she feels and how grieved she is at her heart. The poet describes the sense of loss through the sadness that is seen in the nature, where everything is dull and dead, and there is no ray of positivity and cheer. The poet has used winter as the metaphor for death here. Winter is symbolic to death and sadness in literature. The poet has taken help of nature and imagery in this poem. This helps her to show the grief that she has hidden in her heart. The images that she gives in this poem are from the nature, and the ones that are symbolic to a particular mood and tone, and here it is depression, sadness, and separation. For example:

When you are gone, there is nor bloom nor leaf,

Nor singing sea at night, nor silver birds;

You might be interested to go through the analysis of Little Words

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