Female Fashions for 1799

By Mary Robinson 1758–1800 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, sick'ning sweet,
       Bought of PARISIAN VARLET.

A bush of hair, the brow to shade,
       Sometimes the eyes to cover ;
A necklace that might be display'd
       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 cov'ring 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.

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Poet Mary Robinson 1758–1800



 Mary  Robinson


Mary Robinson was born in England. Robinson was also known as the first mistress of the Prince of Wales, who would later become King George IV. In addition to writing poetry, Robinson was an ardent feminist and staunch supporter of the rights of women, convictions she displayed by living separately from her husband and having numerous affairs.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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