Dorothy Parker? Oscar Wilde? Mike Porter? Arch Ward? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Composing poetry is rarely a lucrative occupation. A traditional moralistic adage has been transformed into a comical warning for versifiers:
- Crime does not pay.
- Rhyme does not pay.
This word play has been credited to the prominent wit Dorothy Parker who published multiple collections of poetry. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: The earliest close match located by QI appeared in 1934 within a column by Martin A. Gosch in the “Evening Courier” of Camden, New Jersey. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
… a prize gag from colleague Mike Porter: Edith Murray, the CBS songbird, started out in life as a poet, but found that Rhyme does not pay!!
Dorothy Parker received credit for the quip by June 1938 as shown further below, but it was already in circulation.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1934 January 16, Evening Courier, By Gosh! by Martin A. Gosch (Courier-Post Radio Editor), Quote Page 16, Column 3, Camden, New Jersey. (Newspapers_com) ↩