by Dorothy Parker
Lines 1-4 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Razors pain you;
- Either our speaker hasn't quite learned how to shave yet, or she's using razors to cut something more than her armpit hair.
- Whichever it is, our speaker makes sure to clarify that she's not the one who would be suffering – it's "you."
- In other words, the speaker's not necessarily admitting that she's attempting to use razors. She's speaking impersonally.
Rivers are damp;
- Well, our speaker turns out to be a master of understatement here. Yes, rivers are "damp" – they're made of water, silly!
- Maybe our speaker's just listing a bunch of random observations here, but they're beginning to sound a bit suspicious. After all, slitting your wrists and drowning are two very popular ways of committing suicide.
- "Damp" also seems like a word we'd use to describe how our clothes or swimsuit feel after taking a dip in a pool or a lake – when you get out and it's a little windy, and maybe you start to get clammy; dampness is not the most comfortable feeling in the world.
Acids stain you;
- A less popular way to kill oneself is to swallow acid.
- In case you were wondering, it's about as pleasant as it sounds. Acid tends to be…acidic. In other words, it's not all that easy on the digestive system.
- Funnily enough, though, our speaker doesn't mention the intense pain that accompanies a dose of acid.
- You could say that she's understating her case again, but we're beginning to think that she's deliberately focusing on the superficial aspects of death. Sure, acid may tear apart your digestive system – but it'll also mess up your new kicks. See what we mean?
And drugs cause cramp;
- We're guessing that the "cramp" our speaker mentions here are stomach cramps, which is one side effect of overdosing on pills.
- Notice that this is the first time that a line starts with "and." Sure, the word choice here isn't a huge deal, but it does suggest that our speaker is thinking of all these things cumulatively – that is, they're all part of a list of options.
- And none of the options are very appealing.