Listen to the poem in English
War Song by Dorothy Parker
(from The Portable Dorothy Parker, 1944)
Soldier, in a curious land
All across a swaying sea,
Take her smile and lift her hand –
Have no guilt of me.
Soldier, when were soldiers true?
If she’s kind and sweet and gay,
Use the wish I send to you –
Lie not lone till day!
Only, for the nights that were,
Soldier, and the dawns that came,
When in sleep you turn to her
Call her by my name.
Given the date of the poem, Parker must have had to deal with magazine editors who wanted wartime poetry to be as uplifting as possible. The female speaker faces the dilemma of war – that male soldiers sent overseas to fight will could become involved with other women while away from home – and asks only to be remembered.
Dorothy Parker, American writer (1893-1967)
Dorothy Parker’s main works include poems, short stories, and sketches. A view of the human situation as simultaneously tragic and funny is characteristic of her writings. From 1916 until 1920 she was a drama and literature critic at Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines. She wrote book reviews for The New Yorker from 1927 until 1933. Her last major undertaking was to collaborate on a drama, The Ladies of the Corridor, in 1953. She was among the founders of an informal literary circle–the Algonquin Round Table.