Love Is a Thing That Can Never Go Wrong; And I Am Marie of Romania

Dorothy Parker? Franklin P. Adams? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous wit Dorothy Parker once penned an entertaining poem which rhymed “Romania” and “extemporanea”. Would you please help me to find a citation for this poem?

Quote Investigator: In 1926 Dorothy Parker published the poetry collection “Enough Rope”. The rhyme was contained in a four-line verse titled “Comment”. Parker spelled “Romania” as “Roumania”:[1] 1926 Copyright, Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker, Poem: Comment, Quote Page 55, Horace Liveright, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Parker also penned the poem “Inventory” which is contained in “Enough Rope”:[2] 1926 Copyright, Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker, Poem: Inventory, Quote Page 53, Horace Liveright, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.

Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.

Additionally, Parker included an indirect affirmation of life titled “Résumé”:[3] 1926 Copyright, Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker, Poem: Résumé, Quote Page 61, Horace Liveright, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

In 1926 newspaper columnist Franklin Pierce Adams published “The Conning Tower Book” which contained verses selected from his popular column in “The New York World”. Adams reprinted Parker’s work titled “Comment”.[4]1926, The Conning Tower Book: Being a Selection of the Best Verses Published in the Conning Tower, Edited by Franklin Pierce Adams, Poem: Comment, Quote Page 216, Macy – Masius, New York. … Continue reading

In 1930 “Vanity Fair” reprinted Parker’s poem:[5] 1930 December, Vanity Fair, Volumes 35,number 4, The Editor’s Uneasy Chair, Quote Page 39, Column 3, Condé Nast Publications, New York. (Google Books Full View)

The editors feel that Mrs. Cole has painted an excellent likeness of Her Roumanian Majesty. They will fortify Mrs. Cole further by quoting Dorothy Parker’s Comment:

O, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong:
And I am Marie of Roumania.

In 1996 the “Cassell Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” by Nigel Rees discussed the modern meaning of the final phrase of the poem:[6] 1998 (1996 Copyright), Cassell Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by Nigel Rees, Entry: I am Marie of Romania, Quote Page 129, Cassell, London. (Verified with scans)

I am Marie of Romania.
Expression of disbelief, found for example in a detective novel — Val MacDermid’s Clean Break (1995): ‘If what you had nicked off your wall is a Monet, I am Marie of Romania’. The source of this expression is Dorothy Parker’s jaunty little ‘Comment’ (1937) …

In conclusion, Dorothy Parker deserves credit for the poem “Comment” in the 1926 collection “Enough Rope”. The final line is now used to express disbelief.

Image Notes: Illustration of a crown from Clker-Free-Vector-Images at Pixabay. Image has been retouched, recolored, and resized.

References

References
1 1926 Copyright, Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker, Poem: Comment, Quote Page 55, Horace Liveright, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
2 1926 Copyright, Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker, Poem: Inventory, Quote Page 53, Horace Liveright, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
3 1926 Copyright, Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker, Poem: Résumé, Quote Page 61, Horace Liveright, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
4 1926, The Conning Tower Book: Being a Selection of the Best Verses Published in the Conning Tower, Edited by Franklin Pierce Adams, Poem: Comment, Quote Page 216, Macy – Masius, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
5 1930 December, Vanity Fair, Volumes 35,number 4, The Editor’s Uneasy Chair, Quote Page 39, Column 3, Condé Nast Publications, New York. (Google Books Full View)
6 1998 (1996 Copyright), Cassell Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by Nigel Rees, Entry: I am Marie of Romania, Quote Page 129, Cassell, London. (Verified with scans)