(Poem #1884) A Southern Girl
Her dimpled cheeks are pale; She's a lily of the vale, Not a rose. In a muslin or a lawn She is fairer than the dawn To her beaux. Her boots are slim and neat, -- She is vain about her feet, It is said. She amputates her r's, But her eyes are like the stars Overhead. On a balcony at night, With a fleecy cloud of white Round her hair -- Her grace, ah, who could paint? She would fascinate a saint, I declare. 'Tis a matter of regret, She's a bit of a coquette, Whom I sing: On her cruel path she goes With a half a dozen beaux To her string. But let all that pass by, As her maiden moments fly, Dew-empearled; When she marries, on my life, She will make the dearest wife In the world.
Note: lawn: A light cotton or linen fabric of very fine weave. [Middle English laun, after Laon, a city of northern France.] This is a delightfully lighthearted poem, one that kept me smiling throughout at its sheer, brazen refusal to take either itself or its subject seriously. Furthermore (apart from the wonderful "half a dozen beaux to her string" pun, and the reference to "amputated" 'r's) the humour seems to lie almost entirely in the tone of the poem - no mean feat, considering how many works of this sort either slip into a more heavy-handed sort of mockery, or go the more "explicit humour" route. Note, also, the wonderfully lilting rhythm of the poem - something that drew me in from the first verse, even before I noticed Peck's gentle humour. Again, it takes an excellent ear and a very deft touch to keep the poem from being annoyingly sing-song. All in all, it was just enjoyable to read a poem clearly written for the sheer fun of writing poetry, but written nonetheless with excellent attention paid to style and detail. martin Links: There is a brief biography here: [broken link] http://www.pddoc.com/poems/#peck