Parties: A Hymn of Hate

Dorothy Parker’s “Parties: A Hymn of Hate” is an ode to the many annoyances of parties. Known for her sardonic style and sharp wit, Parker wrote a series of poems entitled “The Hates,” dedicated to such despised subjects as men, women, relatives and bohemians. In the opening lines, Parker makes her position clear: “I hate parties;/They bring out the worst in me.” Each of the following stanzas serves as a dispatch from the scene of a particular kind of party, whether the “Novelty Affair,” the “Bridge Festival,” or the “Day in the Country.” Parker’s speaker reports on each event using careful observations interlaced with cutting, ironic remarks. Returning to the city from the unpleasant “Day in the Country,” the speaker notes how “everyone exclaims over how beautiful the lights of the city look—/I’ll say they do.” Parker greatest stylistic tool is her control of tone. Parker subtly shifts between pitch-perfect imitations of the boring party-goers and the speaker’s wry internal commentary. While the poem is often extreme in its sarcasm and ill will, it touches on a universal experience. Who hasn’t, at some point or other, been exasperated by a party?

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