Female Fashions for 1799 (1799)

Mary Robinson

A FORM, as any taper, fine;
A head like half-pint bason;
Where golden cords, and bands entwine,
As rich as fleece of JASON.

A pair of shoulders strong and wide,
Like country clown enlisting;
Bare arms long dangling by the side,
And shoes of ragged listing!

Cravats like towels, thick and broad,
Long tippets made of bear-skin,
Muffs that a RUSSIAN might applaud,
And rouge to spoil a fair skin.

Long petticoats to hide the feet,
Silk hose with clocks of scarlet;
A load of perfume, sickening sweet,
Bought of PARISIAN VARLET.

A bush of hair, the brow to shade,
Sometimes the eyes to cover;
A necklace that might be displayed
By OTAHEITEAN lover!

A bowl of straw to deck the head,
Like porringer unmeaning;
A bunch of POPPIES flaming red,
With motly ribands streaming.

Bare ears on either side the head,
Like wood-wild savage SATYR ;
Tinted with deep vermilion red,
To shame the blush of nature.

Red elbows, gauzy gloves, that add
An icy covering merely;
A wadded coat, the shape to pad,
Like Dutch-women — or nearly.

Such is CAPRICE ! but, lovely kind!
Oh ! let each mental feature
Proclaim the labour of the mind,
And leave your charms to NATURE.

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

listing  tippets [tippet]  clocks [clock]  Otaheitean [Otaheitan]  porringer