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?

Analysis, meaning and summary of Dorothy Parker's poem Coda


  1. Divya says:

    Amazing stuff! This seems to sum up life as we know it! Mundane and vapid for the most part – but is it really that difficult to make choices more interesting? Definite food for thought…

  2. Lena says:

    I’m fascinated by this poem, even though English isn’t even my mothertongue. I love it.

  3. Kim says:

    I really enjoyed this poem. I first heard of it on the American popular television show “Gilmore Girls” when Rory went to a dance with her boyfriend Dean and he found the book in her purse. I think Dorothy must have had a bad life and wanted to end it badly. I have seen this reaction in many of her poems. She has one entitled Epitaph that might be of interest to anyone that read this poem.

  4. jacinta says:

    This poem i find beautifully nostalgic, despite it’s depressing outlook on life. Dorothy is saying theres not much substance in giving,taking, water and wine and that life, or her life, she never chose. She speaks of the struggle to make it to the top, which gives little reward in itself, and perhaps referrs to the trials life poses. She speaks of love being a constant dissapointment and work something for animals – monotonous. That no respite is given and she is thinking of giving up the challenge of living her life. The last line may be sarcasm; ‘this life is so hard/tedious/unrewarding that if it’s not hell, id like to see anything worse.’

  5. Michelle says:

    This poem is interesting. I think ilike dorothy parker. I am in the 11th grade and i am doing my Junior research project on Dorothy Parker because she is just like me: Sarcastic, Bitchy, and has had her heart broken one too many times.

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