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by Rita Dove

Parsley Wealth Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #1

There is a parrot imitating spring
in the palace, its feathers parsley green. (lines 1-2)

The very opening of "Parsley" suggests wealth – immediately we have a palace, in which the parrot (which, we'll remember, is one of the driving symbols of the poem) is sitting like a kind of jewel. Also, when we think of the color green, we might recall some natural things – plants, spring, growth – but we also think of money, no? This is probably not coincidental.

Quote #2

and it flowered, each spring stolidly forming
four-star blossoms. (lines 25-26)

Mostly what's significant about this quote is the "four-star" bit. It would be one thing if the poem were referring to an actual plant (and maybe there were blossoms above his mother's grave; we can't know). But the thing that's supposed to be "flowering" here is Trujillo's mother's walking cane. This doesn't make sense, realistically. That's OK, though. What it implies, we think, is a kind of successful lineage. As in, Trujillo's mother has produced a four-star general, with a four-star life.

Quote #3

He orders pastries
brought up for the bird; they arrive
dusted with sugar on a bed of lace. (lines 40-42)

Well this is a bit of an extravagant gesture for a pet bird, don't you think? We'd say so, and we also think that it's a deliberate contrast between what's going on in the palace (birds being fed from lace-lined plates) and what's going on outside of it (enslaved Haitians dying by the thousands on the whim of one man).

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