Comment 4 of 42, added on March 10th, 2005 at 7:10 PM.
I think that satin was used to cover bodies at the time. When you read a
Dorthy Parker poem, just remember that she loves giving the endings of her
poems a twist. In this poem, she extoles the values of satin, that while
wool is for misers, and linen for nuns, that satin is really great, for the
wise and the bold. She then ends saying that people who see her in it will
say "What a fine shroud!" for this was what satin was used for. She pokes
fun at romantism as only a true skeptic could.
from United States
Comment 3 of 42, added on October 16th, 2004 at 5:04 AM.
Declan states in her commentary that there seems to be some class
discrimination throughout the poem, which I agree with. Not only is class
discrimination apparent, but I also get a sense of gender-inequality
issues. Kate Garber says that Parker is "a woman through and through". From
what I've read about Parker, this is entirely true. However, I don't agree
with a few of Garber's ideas.
In my opinion, the last stanza is most likely not referring to death.
Though "shroud" does mean "burial garment", I think it is meant as a symbol
meaning "dress", just a piece of clothing worth little, but significant of
so much more.
Another aspect is the main point of the poem. It may not be necessarily
clothing; that's just a generic way of speaking to describe the norms
imposed on women of the time. Parker was an influential woman writer who
didn't edit her opinions through writing, even after being fired from her
job with Vanity Fair. I truly admire a writer who refuses to change her
writing only to better suit other people's comfort zones. Parker can also
be described as a feminist, who recognized her valuable role as a woman and
remained strong through difficult circumstances in her life. In the first
stanza of the poem, she asks, "Where's the man could ease a heart like a
satin gown?" and continues in the second stanza to speak metaphorically,
portraying her ideal man. To her, that would be a man to "crawl round [her]
cunning seams", which would be the exact opposite of male tendencies during
her male-dominated era.
Throughout the poem, Parker stresses that satin is for the free, the bold,
the wise, the proud. Sounds like the start of a women's rights movement if
I ever heard one. Her confidence, though it may very well include it, is
not limited to sexual confidence. It's the confidence of someone with her
own ideas, who deserves respect for expressing them. To me, Parker was not
a "reckless, sexual" creature, but someone who possessed a certain freedom
that comes with her powerful nature, the greatest example of this being the
power to touch others with her words.