Dorothy Parker– the writer of the poem had a very troubled childhood and difficulty growing up. Her mother died when she was nine and she hated her stepmother to the extent she called her “housekeeper”. She is known for her witty writing style. This poem she wrote a tribute to “Harriet Beecher Stowe”, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s books like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was extremely popular and contributed to English Literature greatly. This is a short poem composed of four lines with rhyming couplets. It can be said to be of epigrammatic fashion. Here is the Harriet Beecher Stowe summary.
Summary of Dorothy Parker’s “Harriet Beecher Stowe”
The poem appears to be simple but is a little hard to get, until you read it twice. For a reader, it is tricky to guess if the is genuinely paying a tribute to the mentioned authoress or is this poem a satire. Going by her writing style it can be assumed to be a spoof, this four line poem may appear small in construction but it digs deep. The first line beings by praising the author, the poet states that the author is a pure soul and is of great value. The author the poet is talking about was a popular name in America, she wrote about the slavery of African-Americans and the atrocities inflicted on them in her famous novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. It played a major role in inspiring the anti-slavery fight against America. So the first line brilliantly depicts the nature and attribute of the author who always stood for social issues.
The second line is a continuation of the first where the poet says that she and everyone else is very proud of the author and it is a great honor to know her. It is a common phenomenon that we all feel proud to know someone who is important and has played great roles in the welfare of the society harriet beecher stowe civil war or any aspect of life. So is the poet, but going by the dates when the author died the poet was three years of age, so literally they never met. The poet must know her by her works whether literary or social.
In the next line, she is mentioning the author’s various roles she played in her lifetime. The author was a mother, a wife and an author, harriet beecher stowe for kids of the matter of fact. She was a multi-tasking lady, who balanced all spheres of her life so well. We can say that Harriet was a modern lady. Today we can connect with her because all the ladies today in the twenty-first century are multi-tasking. They manage so many things all at the same time, but at that time it was not necessarily like that.
The last line is what makes the reader think that it’s a satire but also confuses as to what if it’s a genuine praise, every other reader might have a differing opinion. Here the poet says that she is glad that she is content with less. “Thank God, I am content with less!” The tone of the line suggests that it is a witty remark. Maybe the poet is laughing at her own in capabilities because she is unable to multitask, and through this remark, she is trying to disguise her dismay by saying that she is okay with the way she is unlike the author, but somewhere she so wishes to be like her.