Dorothy Parker (quotes)

  • All men are the same age.
  • Trapped like a trap in a trap
  • And where does she find them?
  • Somebody was using the pencil.
  • Hell’s afloat in lover’s tears.
  • Scratch a king and find a fool!
  • People are more fun than anyone.
  • Brevity is the soul of lingerie.
  • Scratch a lover, and find a foe.
  • Writing well is the best revenge.
  • Women and elephants never forget.
  • Eternity is a ham and two people.
  • A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
  • A girl’s best friend is her mutter.
  • Hold your pen and spare your voice.
  • Vice is nice, but liquor is quicker.
  • At birth the Devil touched my tongue.
  • Love is like quicksilver in the hand.
  • I hate writing, I love having written.
  • But I don’t give up; I forget why not.
  • The House Beautiful is the play lousy.
  • People are more than fun than anybody.
  • Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.
  • Quick!! Act as if nothing has happened!
  • You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.
  • Dear Mary: We all knew you had it in you. (on the birth of her child)
  • They sicken of the calm who know the storm.
  • Age before beauty, and pearls before swine.
  • She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.
  • Scratch an actor and you’ll find an actress.
  • I wish, I wish I were a poisonous bacterium.
  • I’ve finally gotten to the bottom of things.
  • Sorrow is tranquility remembered in emotion.
  • If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
  • They tire of quiet, that have known the storm
  • I like to have a martini/Two at the very most.
  • Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.
  • Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.
  • One more drink and I’d have been under the host.
  • It was written without fear and without research.
  • ridicule may be a shield, but it is not a weapon.
  • Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.
  • Civilization is coming to an end, you understand.
  • The best way to avoid a hangover is to stay drunk.
  • His voice was as intimate as the rustle of sheets.
  • A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.
  • Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.
  • The definition of eternity is two people and a ham.
  • I can’t write five words but that I change seven.
  • People ought to be one of two things, young or dead.
  • It’s not the tragedies that kill us; it’s the messes.
  • Los Angeles: Seventy-two suburbs in search of a city.
  • Of Orson Welles: It’s like meeting God without dying.
  • Where’s the man could ease a heart Like a satin gown?
  • I wouldn’t touch a superlative again with an umbrella.
  • If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.
  • He is a writer for the ages, the ages of four to eight.
  • Three highballs, and I think I’m St. Francis of Assisi.
  • Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.
  • All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends.
  • Where unwilling dies the rose; buds the new another year.
  • You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.
  • Don’t feel bad when I die; I’ve been dead for a long time.
  • If I had any decency, I’d be dead. Most of my friends are.
  • I was the toast of two continents: Greenland and Australia.
  • Out in Hollywood, where the streets are paved with Goldwyn.
  • If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you.
  • Take me or leave me; or, as is the usual order of things, both.
  • A liberal is a man who leaves the room before the fight starts.
  • She was pleased to have him come and never sorry to see him go.
  • My first love was Cinderella, but she ran off with another man.
  • [On hearing that President Coolidge was dead:] How can you tell?
  • Constant use had not worn ragged the fabric of their friendship.
  • I shudder at the thought of men…. I’m due to fall in love again
  • She will never win him, whose words had shown she feared to lose.
  • The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
  • I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.
  • This living, this living, this living Was never a project of mine.
  • Gratitude – the meanest and most snivelling attribute in the world.
  • Friends come and go but I wouldn’t have thought you’d be one of them
  • Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart.
  • They say of me, and so they should, It’s doubtful if I come to good.
  • The cleverest woman on earth is the biggest fool on earth with a man.
  • What writes worse than a Theodore Dreiser? … Two Theodore Dreisers.
  • Ducking for apples — change one letter and it’s the story of my life.
  • Four things I am wiser to know: Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
  • [On the ringing of her doorbell or telephone:] What fresh hell is this?
  • And if my heart be scarred and burned, The safer, I, for all I learned.
  • London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful.
  • There was a reason for the cost of those perfectly plain black dresses.
  • Hollywood is one place in the world where you can die of encouragement.
  • That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.
  • I don’t mind anything that’s written about me, as long as it’s not true.
  • Money cannot buy health, but I’d settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.
  • Newton’s Fourth Law: Every action has an equal and opposite satisfaction.
  • Hollywood is the one place on earth where you could die of encouragement.
  • I don’t want to review books any more. It cuts in too much on my reading.
  • Her big heart did not, as is so sadly often the case, inhabit a big bosom.
  • Never throw mud: you can miss the target, but your hands will remain dirty.
  • The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.
  • Said after she had been seriously ill: The doctors were very brave about it.
  • Art is a form of catharsis emotional release, purging, cleansing, purifying.
  • The sweeter the apple, the blacker the core. Scratch a lover and find a foe!
  • [On being told their loquacious, domineering host was ‘outspoken’:] By whom?
  • Guns aren’t lawful; nooses give; gas smells awful. So you might as well live.
  • I wanted to be cute. That’s the terrible thing. I should have had more sense.
  • Ah, clear they see and true they say That one shall weep, and one shall stray
  • I give her sadness and the gift of pain,a new moon madness and a love of rain.
  • I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.
  • I require only three things of a man. He must be handsome, ruthless and stupid.
  • There is entirely too much charm around, and something must be done to stop it.
  • I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.
  • As I was saying to the landlord only this morning: ‘You can’t have everything’.
  • [When asked what was the inspiration for most of her work:] Need of money, dear.
  • He lies below, correct in cypress wood, And entertains the most exclusive worms.
  • Now, look, baby, ‘Union’ is spelled with 5 letters. It is not a four-letter word.
  • When you have to apologize, it is well, I suppose, to get the thing over quickly.
  • People Who Do Things exceed my endurance; God, for a man that solicits insurance!
  • Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
  • Authors and actors and artists and such – Never know nothing, and never know much.
  • Bewildered is the fox who lives to find that grapes beyond reach can be really sour.
  • On being told of the death of former President Calvin Coolidge: How could they tell?
  • This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
  • Most good women are hidden treasures who are only safe because nobody looks for them.
  • Four be the things I’d have been better without: love, curiosity, freckles and doubt.
  • Q: What’s the difference between an enzyme and a hormone? A: You can’t hear an enzyme.
  • Summer makes me drowsy. Autumn makes me sing. Winter’s pretty lousy, but I hate Spring.
  • She can sit up and beg, and she can give her paw ‚Äî I don’t say she will, but she can.
  • If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at the people He gives it to.
  • Hollywood money isn’t money. It’s congealed snow, melts in your hand, and there you are.
  • The sun’s gone dim, and the moon’s gone black. For I loved him, and he didn’t love back.
  • I was always sweet, at first. Oh, it’s so easy to be sweet to people before you love them.
  • Anthologists are lazy fellows who like to spend a quiet evening at home raiding good books.
  • [On Dashiell Hammett:] … he is so hard-boiled you could roll him on the White House lawn.
  • Of course I talk to myself. I like a good speaker, and I appreciate an intelligent audience.
  • You do what you can, and you do it because you should. But all you can do is all you can do.
  • This must be a gift book. That is to say a book, which you wouldn’t take on any other terms.
  • [On Katharine Hepburn’s stage performance:] She ran the whole gamut of emotions, from A to B.
  • All I have to be thankful for in this world is that I was sitting down when my garter busted.
  • I like to think of my shining tombstone. It gives me, as you might say, something to live for.
  • When your bank account is so overdrawn that it is positively photographic, steps must be taken.
  • If all the girls attending [the Yale prom] were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
  • Go to the Martin Beck Theatre and watch Katherine Hepburn run the gamut of emotions from A to B.
  • The Swiss are a neat and an industrious people, none of whom is under seventy-five years of age.
  • The only dependable law of life – everything is always worse than you thought it was going to be.
  • The only useful thing I ever learned in school was that if you spit on your eraser it erased ink.
  • Yet, as only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.
  • Oh, both my shoes are shiny new, And pristine is my hat My dress is 1922‚Ķ My life is all like that.
  • His books are exciting and powerful and ‚Äî if I may filch the word from the booksy ones ‚Äî pulsing.
  • Genius can write on the back of old envelopes but mere talent requires the finest stationery available.
  • Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it and it darts away.
  • [On hearing that Clare Boothe Luce was invariably kind to her inferiors:] And where does she find them?
  • It’s easier to write about those you hate ‚Äî just as it’s easier to criticize a bad play or a bad book.
  • Sometimes I think I’ll give up trying, and just go completely Russian and sit on a stove and moan all day.
  • I like to have a martini/Two at the very most/After three I’m under the table/After four I’m under my host.
  • If you looked for things to make you feel hurt and wretched and unnecessary, you were certain to find them.
  • Years are only garments, and you either wear them with style all your life, or else you go dowdy to the grave.
  • And there was that poor sucker Flaubert rolling around on his floor for three days looking for the right word.
  • There was nothing separate about her days. Like drops on the window-pane, they ran together and trickled away.
  • [On an actor who’d broken her leg in London:] Oh, how terrible. She must have done it sliding down a barrister.
  • The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.
  • Now I know the things I know, and I do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you!
  • [After she and Clare Boothe Luce met in a doorway and the latter said, ‘Age before beauty’:] Pearls before swine.
  • [To the British actor who annoyed her by repeated references to his busy ‘shedule’:] I think you’re full of skit.
  • Excuse me, everybody, I have to go to the bathroom. I really have to telephone, but I’m too embarrassed to say so.
  • I might repeat to myself . . . a list of quotations from minds profound – if I can remember any of the damn things.
  • [On being told party guests were ducking for apples:] There, but for a typographical error, is the story of my life.
  • Honesty means nothing until you are tested under circumstances where you are sure you could get away with dishonesty.
  • The affair between Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith will live as one of the prettiest love stories in all literature.
  • Travel, trouble, music, art, a kiss, a frock, a rhyme — I never said they feed my heart, but still they pass my time.
  • Some men break your heart in two, Some men fawn and flatter, Some men never look at you; And that cleans up the matter.
  • If all the young ladies who attended the Yale promenade dance were laid end to end, no one would be the least surprised.
  • If I had a shiny gun I could have a world of fun Speeding bullets through the brains Of the folks that cause me pains :)
  • Now that you’ve got me right down to it, the only thing I didn’t like about The Barrets of Wimplole Street was the play.
  • There must be a magnificent disregard of your reader, for if he cannot follow you, there is nothing you can do about it.
  • If I didn’t care for fun and such,I’d probably amount to much.But I shall stay the way I am,Because I do not give a damn.
  • Oh, seek, my love, your newer way; I’ll not be left in sorrow. So long as I have yesterday, Go take your damned tomorrow!
  • Her mind lives tidily, apart from cold and noise and pain. And bolts the door against her heart, out wailing in the rain.
  • Then if my friendships break and bend, There’s little need to cry The while I know that every foe Is faithful till I die.
  • If, with the literate, I am Impelled to try an epigram, I never seek to take the credit; We all assume that Oscar said it.
  • Drink and dance and laugh and lie, Love, the reeling midnight through, For tomorrow we shall die! (But, alas, we never do.)
  • Should they whisper false of you, Never trouble to deny; Should the words they say be true, Weep and storm and say they lie.
  • Why is it no one sent me yet one perfect limousine, do you suppose? Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get one perfect rose.
  • Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.
  • Those who have mastered etiquette, who are entirely, impeccably right, would seem to arrive at a point of exquisite dullness.
  • …as for helping me in the outside world, the Convent taught me only that if you spit on a pencil eraser, it will erase ink.
  • Telegram to a friend who had just become a mother after a prolonged pregnancy: Good work, Mary. We all knew you had it in you.
  • Accursed from their birth they be Who seek to find monogamy, Pursuing it from bed to bed‚Äî I think they would be better dead.
  • There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.
  • Benchley and I had an office in the old Life magazine that was so tiny, if it were an inch smaller it would have been adultery.
  • Innocence is a desirable thing, a dainty thing, an appealing thing, in its place; but carried too far, it is merely ridiculous.
  • It is that word ‘hunny,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.
  • [Completely bored by a country weekend, wiring to a friend:] For heaven’s sake, rush me a loaf of bread, enclosing saw and file.
  • Why, after all, should readers never be harrowed? Surely there is enough happiness in life without having to go to books for it.
  • For a few minutes, everything is so cute that the mind reels…. And then, believe it or not, things get worse. So I shot myself.
  • That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.
  • This is me apologizing. I am a fool, a bird-brain, a liar and a horse-thief. I wouldn’t touch a superlative again with an umbrella.
  • All those writers who write about their own childhood! Gentle God, if I wrote about mine you wouldn’t sit in the same room with me.
  • I’m of the glamorous ladies At whose beckoning history shook. But you are a man, and see only my pan, So I stay at home with a book.
  • If wild my breast and sore my pride, I bask in dreams of suicide, If cool my heart and high my head I think ‘How lucky are the dead.
  • Said of her husband on the day their divorce became final: Oh, don’t worry about Alan. . . . Alan will always land on somebody’s feet.
  • [To woman bragging about having kept her husband for seven years:] Don’t worry, if you keep him long enough, he’ll come back in style.
  • My verses, I cannot say poems. . . . I was following in the exquisite footsteps of Miss Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers.
  • What ever beauty may be it has for its basis order and for its essence unity Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.
  • Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, a medley of extemporanea, And love is a thing that can never go wrong, and I am Marie of Romania.
  • Misfortune, and recited misfortune especially, can be prolonged to the point where it ceases to excite pity and arouses only irritation.
  • It costs me never a stab nor squirm / To tread by chance upon a worm. / Aha, my little dear, / I say, Your clan will pay me back one day.
  • Because your eyes are slant and slow, Because your hair is sweet to touch, My heart is high again; but oh, I doubt if this will get me much.
  • Prince or commoner, tenor or bass, Painter or plumber or never-do-well, Do me a favor and shut your face – Poets alone should kiss and tell.
  • I know that there are things that never have been funny, and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield, but it is not a weapon.
  • [On Edna Ferber’s Ice Palace] … the book, which is going to be a movie, has the plot and characters of a book which is going to be a movie.
  • [On being shown an apartment by a real estate agent:] Oh, dear, that’s much too big. All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends.
  • The Monte Carlo casino refused to admit me until I was properly dressed so I went and found my stockings, and then came back and lost my shirt.
  • Maybe it is only I, but conditions are such these days, that if you use studiously correct grammar, people suspect you of homosexual tendencies.
  • My land is bare of chattering folk; / the clouds are low along the ridges, / and sweet’s the air with curly smoke / from all my burning bridges.
  • I never see that prettiest thing- A cherry bough gone white with Spring- But what I think, “How gay ‘twould be To hang me from a flowering tree.
  • Upton Sinclair is his own King Charles’ head. He cannot keep himself out of his writings, try though he may; or, by this time, try though he doesn’t.
  • By the time you swear you’re his, Shivering and sighing. And he vows his passion is, Infinite, undying. Lady make note of this — One of you is lying.
  • Gertrude Stein did us the most harm when she said, ‘You’re all a lost generation.’ That got around to certain people and we all said, ‘Whee! We’re lost.
  • Somewhere, there, is an analogy, in a small way, if you have the patience for it. But I guess it isn’t a very good anecdote. I’m better at animal stories.
  • I know that an author must be brave enough to chop away clinging tentacles of good taste for the sake of a great work. But this is no great work, you see.
  • The writer’s way is rough and lonely, and who would choose it while there are vacancies in more gracious professions, such as, say, cleaning out ferryboats?
  • I find her anecdotes more efficacious than sheep-counting, rain on a tin roof, or alanol tablets…. you will find me and Morpheus, off in a corner, necking.
  • I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money.
  • It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and then write it sentence by sentence – no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I change seven.
  • Ewing was a short woman who accepted the obligation borne by so many short women to make up in vivacity what they lack in number of inches from the ground.
  • If I should labor through daylight and dark, Consecrate, valorous, serious, true, Then on the world I may blazon my mark; And what if I don’t, and what if I do?
  • London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.
  • Money was made, not to command our will, But all our lawful pleasures to fulfill. Shame and woe to us, if we our wealth obey; The horse doth with the horseman away.
  • It turns out that, at social gatherings, as a source of entertainment, conviviality, and good fun, I rank somewhere between a sprig of parsley and a single ice-skate.
  • [Hospitalized and pressing the nurse’s button before dictating letters to her secretary:] This should assure us of at least forty-five minutes of undisturbed privacy.
  • There’s life for you. Spend the best years of your life studying penmanship and rhetoric and syntax and Beowulf and George Eliot, and then somebody steals your pencil.
  • I know this will come as a shock to you, Mr. Goldwyn, but in all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending.
  • Well, there are always those who cannot distinguish between glitter and glamour . . . the glamour of Isadora Duncan came from her great, torn, bewildered, foolhardy soul.
  • [From a window in the Writer’s Building at MGM, which overlooked a cemetery:] Hello down there. It might interest you to know that up here we are just as dead as you are.
  • We were all imitative. We all wandered in after Miss Edna St. Vincent Millay. We were all being dashing and gallant, declaring we weren’t virgins, whether we were or not.
  • All I say is, nobody has any business to go around looking like a horse and behaving as if it were all right. You don’t catch horses going around looking like people, do you?
  • … if this world were anything near what it should be there would be no more need of a Book Week than there would be a of a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
  • I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours.
  • [At the reception following her remarriage to Alan Campbell:] People who haven’t talked to each other in years are on speaking terms again today – including the bride and groom.
  • Nevil Shute’s On the Beach is no Christmas carol, but it seems to me a remarkably fine novel, one which I read, in the peculiarly repulsive phrase, with my eyes glued to the page.
  • A list of authors who have made themselves most beloved and therefore, most comfortable financially, shows that it is our national joy to mistake for the first-rate, the fecund rate.
  • Men don’t like nobility in woman. Not any men. I suppose it is because the men like to have the copyrights on nobility — if there is going to be anything like that in a relationship.
  • Despite his persecutions, Mr. [Upton] Sinclair reveals himself in Money Writes! to be an enviable man. Always the thing he desires to believe is the thing he feels he knows to be true.
  • Be you wise and never sad, You will get your lovely lad. Never serious be, nor true, And your wish will come to you– And if that makes you happy, kid, You’ll be the first it ever did.
  • It may be that this autobiography [Aimee Semple McPherson’s] is set down in sincerity, frankness, and simple effort. It may be, too, that the Statue of Liberty is situated in Lake Ontario.
  • Yes, well, let me tell you that if nobody had ever learned to quote, very few people would be in love with La Rochefoucauld. I bet you I don’t know ten souls who read him without a middleman.
  • Just begin a story with such a phrase as ‘I remember Disraeli – poor old Dizz! – once saying to me, in answer to my poke in the eye,’ and you will find me and Morpheus off in a corner, necking.
  • On lady novelists: As artists they’re rot, but as providers they’re oil wells; they gush. Norris said she never wrote a story unless it was fun to do. I understand Ferber whistles at her typewriter.
  • This play John Drinkwater’s Abraham Lincoln holds the season’s record, thus far, with a run of four evening performances and one matinee. By an odd coincidence, it ran just five performances too many.
  • I misremember who first was cruel enough to nurture the cocktail party into life. But perhaps it would be not too much to say, in fact it would be not enough to say, that it was not worth the trouble.
  • Once, when I was young and true. Someone left me sad – Broke my brittle heart in two; And that is very bad. Love is for unlucky folk, Love is but a curse. Once there was a heart I broke; And that, I think, is worse.
  • [On James Gould Cozzens’ By Love Possessed:] It is a vast enterprise encompassing all sorts of love, except, naturally, those branches which extend to Jews, Negroes, and people who have lost track of their great-grandparents.
  • I can’t talk about Hollywood. It was a horror to me when I was there and it’s a horror to look back on. I can’t imagine how I did it. When I got away from it I couldn’t even refer to the place by name. ”Out there,” I called it.
  • If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first-greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.
  • Woman wants monogamy; Man delights in novelty. Love is woman’s moon and sun; Man has other forms of fun. Woman lives but in her lord; Count to ten, and man is bored. With this the gist and sum of it, What earthly good can come of it?
  • Into love and out again, Thus I went and thus I go. Spare your voice, and hold your pen: Well and bitterly I know All the songs were ever sung, All the words were ever said; Could it be, when I was young, Someone dropped me on my head?
  • The plot is so tired that even this reviewer, who in infancy was let drop by a nurse with the result that she has ever since been mystified by amateur coin tricks, was able to guess the identity of the murderer from the middle of the book.
  • The nowadays ruling that no word is unprintable has, I think, done nothing whatever for beautiful letters. … Obscenity is too valuable a commodity to chuck around all over the place; it should be taken out of the safe on special occasions only.
  • If I don’t drive around the park, I’m pretty sure to make my mark. If I’m in bed each night by ten, I may get back my looks again. If I abstain from fun and such, I’ll probably amount to much; But I shall stay the way I am, Because I do not give a damn.
  • But I give you my word, in the entire book there is nothing that cannot be said aloud in mixed company. And there is, also, nothing that makes you a bit the wiser. I wonder–oh, what will you think of me–if those two statements do not verge upon the synonymous.
  • Pictures pass me in long review,– Marching columns of dead events. I was tender, and, often, true; Ever a prey to coincidence. Always knew I the consequence; Always saw what the end would be. We’re as Nature has made us — hence I loved them until they loved me.
  • I’m never going to accomplish anything; that’s perfectly clear to me. I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.
  • How do people go to sleep? I’m afraid I’ve lost the knack. I might try busting myself smartly over the temple with the night-light. I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.
  • (Scottish Terriers) have all the compactness of a small dog and all the valor of a big one. And they are so exceedingly sturdy that it is proverbial that the only thing fatal to them is being run over by an automobile – in which case the car itself knows it has been in a fight.
  • I fell into writing, I suppose, being one of those awful children who wrote verses. I went to a convent in New York-the Blessed Sacrament… I was fired from there, finally, for a lot of things, among them my insistence that the Immaculate Conception was spontaneous combustion.
  • I had been fed, in my youth, a lot of old wives’ tales about the way men would instantly forsake a beautiful woman to flock around a brilliant one. It is but fair to say that, after getting out in the world, I had never seen this happen.” [From a column dated November 17, 1928]
  • When I was young and bold and strong, The right was right, the wrong was wrong. With plume on high and flag unfurled, I rode away to right the world. But now I’m old – and good and bad, Are woven in a crazy plaid. I sit and say the world is so, And wise is s/he who lets it go.
  • Perhaps it suddenly brought to us the sense of change. Or irresponsibility. But don’t forget that, though the people in the twenties seemed like flops, they weren’t. Fitzgerald, the rest of them, reckless as they were, drinkers as they were, they worked damn hard and all the time.
  • My own dear love, he is strong and bold And he cares not what comes after. His words ring sweet as a chime of gold, And his eyes are lit with laughter. He is jubilant as a flag unfurled – Oh, a girl, she’d not forget him. My own dear love, he is all my world – And I wish I’d never met him.
  • Once I was coming down a street in Beverly Hills and I saw a Cadillac about a block long, and out of the side window was a wonderfully slinky mink, and an arm, and at the end of the arm a hand in a white suede glove wrinkled around the wrist, and in the hand was a bagel with a bite out of it.
  • There must be courage; there must be no awe. There must be criticism, for humor, to my mind, is encapsulated in criticism. There must be a disciplined eye and a wild mind…There must be a magnificent disregard of your reader, for if he cannot follow you, there is nothing you can do about it.
  • My love runs by like a day in June, And he makes no friends of sorrows. He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon In the pathway of the morrows. He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start, Nor could storm or wind uproot him. My own dear love, he is all my heart, — And I wish somebody’d shoot him.
  • Daily dawns another day; I must up, to make my way. Though I dress and drink and eat, Move my fingers and my feet, Learn a little, here and there, Weep and laugh and sweat and swear, Hear a song, or watch a stage, Leave some words upon a page, Claim a foe, or hail a friend- Bed awaits me at the end.
  • [On Kay Strozzi in The Silent Witness:] Miss Strozzi … had the temerity to wear as truly horrible a gown as ever I have seen on the American stage. … Had she not luckily been strangled by a member of the cast while disporting this garment, I should have fought my way to the stage and done her in, myself.
  • In the pathway of the sun, In the footsteps of the breeze, Where the world and sky are one, He shall ride the silver seas, He shall cut the glittering wave. I shall sit at home, and rock; Rise, to heed a neighbor’s knock; Brew my tea, and snip my thread; Bleach the linen for my bed. They will call him brave.
  • They say of me, and so they should, It’s doubtful if I come to good. I see acquaintances and friends Accumulating dividends And making enviable names In science, art and parlor games. But I, despite expert advice, Keep doing things I think are nice, And though to good I never come Inseparable my nose and thumb.
  • I regret to say that during the first act of this, I fell so soundly asleep that the gentleman who brought me piled up a barricade of overcoat, hat, stick, and gloves between us to establish a separation in the eyes of the world, and went into an impersonation of A Young Man Who Has Come to the Theater Unaccompanied.
  • Four be the things I am wiser to know: Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe. Four be the things I’d been better without: Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt. Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient champagne. Three be the things I shall have till I die: Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.
  • The nowadays ruling that no word is unprintable has, I think, done nothing whatever for beautiful letters. The boys have gone hog-wild with liberty, yet the short flat terms used over and over, both in dialogue and narrative, add neither vigor nor clarity; the effect is not of shock but of something far more dangerous ‚Äî tedium.
  • The ladies men admire, I’ve heard, Would shudder at a wicked word. Their candle gives a single light, They’d rather stay at home at night. They do not keep awake ’till three, Nor read erotic poetry. They never sanction the impure, Nor recognize an overture. They shrink from powders and from paints… So far I’ve had no complaints.
  • I won’t telephone him. I’ll never telephone him again as long as I live. He’ll rot in hell, before I’ll call him up. You don’t have to give me strength, God; I have it myself. If he wanted me, he could get me. He knows where I am. He knows I’m waiting here. He’s so sure of me, so sure. I wonder why they hate you, as soon as they are sure of you.
  • Then she told herself to stop her nonsense. If you looked for things to make you feel hurt and wretched and unnecessary, you were certain to find them, more easily each time, so easily, soon, that you did not even realize you had gone out searching. Women alone often developed into experts at the practice. She must never join their dismal league.
  • For this my mother wrapped me warm,And called me home against the storm,And coaxed my infant nights to quiet,And gave me roughage in my diet,And tucked me in my bed at eight,And clipped my hair, and marked my weight,And watched me as I sat and stood:That I might grow to womanhoodTo hear a whistle and drop my witsAnd break my heart to clattering bits.
  • I don’t want to be classed as a humorist. It makes me feel guilty. I’ve never read a good tough quotable female humorist, and I never was one myself. I couldn’t do it. A “smartcracker” they called me, and that makes me sick and unhappy. There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.
  • God, the bitter misery that reading works into this world! Everybody knows that – everbody who IS everybody. All the best minds have been off reading for years. Look at the swing La Rouchefoucauld took at it. He said that if nobody had ever learned to read, very few people would be in love. Good for you, La Rouchefoucauld; nice going, boy. I wish I’d never learned to read.
  • I’ll think about something else. I’ll just sit quietly. If I could sit still. If I could sit still, maybe I could read. Oh, all the books are about people who love each other, truly and sweetly. What do they want to write about that for? Don’t they know it isn’t true? Don’t they know it’s a lie, it’s a God-damned lie? What do they have to tell about that for, when they know how it hurts?
  • There’s little in taking or giving, There’s little in water or wine: This living, this living, this living, Was never a project of mine. Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is The gain of the one at the top, For art is a form of catharsis, And love is a permanent flop, And work is the province of cattle, And rest’s for a clam in a shell, So I’m thinking of throwing the battle – Would you kindly direct me to hell?
  • Men They hail you as their morning star Because you are the way you are. If you return the sentiment, They’ll try to make you different; And once they have you, safe and sound, They want to change you all around. Your moods and ways they put a curse on; They’d make of you another person. They cannot let you go your gait; They influence and educate. They’d alter all that they admired. They make me sick, they make me tired.
  • Little Words 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. 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. 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.
  • Out in Hollywood, where the streets are paved with Goldwyn, the word “sophisticate” means, very simply, “obscene.” A sophisticatedstory is a dirty story. Some of that meaning was wafted eastward and got itself mixed up into the present definition. So that a “sophisticate” means: one who dwells in a tower made of a DuPont substitute for ivory and holds a glass of flat champagne in one hand and an album of dirty post cards in the other.
  • You don’t want a general houseworker, do you? Or a traveling companion, quiet, refined, speaks fluent French entirely in the present tense? Or an assistant billiard-maker? Or a private librarian? Or a lady car-washer? Because if you do, I should appreciate your giving me a trial at the job. Any minute now, I am going to become one of the Great Unemployed. I am about to leave literature flat on its face. I don’t want to review books any more. It cuts in too much on my reading.
  • Lady, lady, never start Conversation toward your heart; Keep your pretty words serene; Never murmur what you mean. Show yourself, by word and look, Swift and shallow as a brook. Be as cool and quick to go As a drop of April snow; Be as delicate and gay As a cherry flower in May. Lady, lady, never speak Of the tears that burn your cheek- She will never win him, whose Words had shown she feared to lose. Be you wise and never sad, You will get your lovely lad. Never serious be, nor true, And your wish will come to you- And if that makes you happy, kid, You’ll be the first it ever did.