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The Camp -- Mary Robinson

(Poem #209) The Camp
 Tents, marquees, and baggage-waggons;
 Suttling-houses, beer in flagons;
 Drums and trumpets, singing, firing;
 Girls seducing, beaux admiring;
 Country lasses gay and smiling,
 City lads their hearts beguiling;
 Dusty roads, and horses frisky,
 Many an Eton Boy in whisky;
 Tax'd carts full of farmers' daughters;
 Brutes condemn'd, and man who slaughters!
 Public-houses, booths, and castles,
 Belles of fashion, serving vassals;
 Lordly gen'rals fiercely staring,
 Weary soldiers, sighing, swearing!
 Petit-maitres always dressing,
 In the glass themselves caressing;
 Perfum'd, painted, patch'd, and blooming
 Ladies -- manly airs assuming!
 Dowagers of fifty, simp'ring,
 Misses for their lovers whimp'ring;
 Husbands drilled to household tameness;
 Dames heart sick of wedded sameness.
 Princes setting girls a-madding,
 Wives for ever fond of gadding;
 Princesses with lovely faces,
 Beauteous children of the Graces!
 Britain's pride and virtue's treasure,
 Fair and gracious beyond measure!
 Aid-de-camps and youthful pages,
 Prudes and vestals of all ages!
 Old coquets and matrons surly,
 Sounds of distant hurly-burly!
 Mingled voices, uncouth singing,
 Carts full laden, forage bringing;
 Sociables and horses weary,
 Houses warm, and dresses airy;
 Loads of fatten'd poultry; pleasure
 Serv'd (to nobles) without measure;
 Doxies, who the waggons follow;
 Beer, for thirsty hinds to swallow;
 Washerwomen, fruit-girls cheerful,
 Ancient ladies -- chaste and fearful!!
 Tradesmen, leaving shops, and seeming
 More of war than profit dreaming;
 Martial sounds and braying asses,
 Noise, that ev'ry noise surpasses!
 All confusion, din, and riot,
 Nothing clean -- and nothing quiet.
-- Mary Robinson
A lovely poem, its cascading couplets perfectly evoking the kaleidoscopic
chaos of an army camp. It doesn't need a whole lot said about it, so I

Note: from The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse.

Biographical Note:

 Mary Robinson, writer of poems and semi-autobiographical novels. She also
 was an actress, and "slipped into the demi-monde" when Prince George fell
 in love with her when he was 17 and she was 21 (I think). She agreed to
 become his lover in exchange for a bond which he was supposed to pay on
 his 21st birthday, but never did (the rat!)--the affair broke up well
 before he turned 21.

 If you're interested, Lonsdale's anthology of 18C Women Poets contains a
 brief biographical sketch and some more poems.

        -- Louise Slater

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