Friday, April 23, 2010

Dorothy Parker's "The Passionate Freudian to His Love"

Once upon a time, I taught British literature to a group of lovely high school students. While I thought that Brit lit was okay (I would take American literature any day of the week), I did enjoy some of the carpe diem poetry (main theme: life is short, so let's live it up!). Among the carpe diem poems in our incredibly heavy textbook was Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love."

Marlowe's poem inspired a number of responses, with the most famous being Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd." However, I wasn't aware that the wonderfully acidic Dorothy Parker had written a witty parody of the poem until I received it as part of the "Poem-a-Day" email from

"The Passionate Freudian to His Love
by Dorothy Parker

Only name the day, and we'll fly away
In the face of old traditions,
To a sheltered spot, by the world forgot,
Where we'll park our inhibitions.
Come and gaze in eyes where the lovelight lies
As it psychoanalyzes,
And when once you glean what your fantasies mean
Life will hold no more surprises.
When you've told your love what you're thinking of
Things will be much more informal;
Through a sunlit land we'll go hand-in-hand,
Drifting gently back to normal.

While the pale moon gleams, we will dream sweet dreams,
And I'll win your admiration,
For it's only fair to admit I'm there
With a mean interpretation.
In the sunrise glow we will whisper low
Of the scenes our dreams have painted,
And when you're advised what they symbolized
We'll begin to feel acquainted.
So we'll gaily float in a slumber boat
Where subconscious waves dash wildly;
In the stars' soft light, we will say good-night—
And "good-night!" will put it mildly.

Our desires shall be from repressions free—
As it's only right to treat them.
To your ego's whims I will sing sweet hymns,
And ad libido repeat them.
With your hand in mine, idly we'll recline
Amid bowers of neuroses,
While the sun seeks rest in the great red west
We will sit and match psychoses.
So come dwell a while on that distant isle
In the brilliant tropic weather;
Where a Freud in need is a Freud indeed,
We'll always be Jung together.