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The Poster Girl’s Defence

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It was an Artless Poster Girl pinned up against my wall,
She was tremendous ugly, she was exceeding tall;
I was gazing at her idly, and I think I must have slept,
For that poster maiden lifted up her poster voice, and wept.

She said between her poster sobs, ‘I think it’s rather rough
To be jeered and fleered and flouted, and I’ve stood it long enough;
I’m tired of being quoted as a Fright and Fad and Freak,
And I take this opportunity my poster mind to speak.

‘Although my hair is carmine and my nose is edged with blue,
Although my style is splashy and my shade effects are few,
Although I’m out of drawing and my back hair is a show,
Yet I have n’t half the whimseys of the maidens that you know.

‘I never keep you waiting while I prink before the glass,
I never talk such twaddle as that little Dawson lass,
I never paint on china, nor erotic novels write,
And I never have recited “Curfew must not ring tonight”.

‘I don’t rave over Ibsen, I never, never flirt,
I never wear a shirt waist with a disconnected skirt;
I never speak in public on “The Suffrage”, or “The Race”,
I never talk while playing whist, or trump my partner’s ace.’

I said: ‘O artless Poster Girl, you’re in the right of it,
You are a joy forever, though a thing of beauty, nit!’
And from her madder eyebrows to her utmost purple swirl,
Against all captious critics I’ll defend the Poster Girl.


Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)
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The Poster Girl’s Defence

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  • A prolific turn-of-the-century writer of poems, mysteries, children’s literature, parodies, and other humorous pieces, Carolyn Wells was born in Rahway, New Jersey. When she was six, Wells experienced hearing loss caused by scarlet fever, but went on to graduate as high school valedictorian and study humanities and science independently under the mentorship of friends.
    Wells’s early publications appeared in Britain’s Punch and The Lark, published by editor and leading nonsense-verse writer Gelett Burgess of San Francisco. Wells collected her early nonsense verse in Idle Idyls (1900). Her 1902 publication, The Nonsense Anthology, became her most famous.

    Wells authored over 75 mystery and detective stories. Her Technique of the Mystery Story (1913, 1929) remains a well-regarded study on the genre. She also wrote stories for youth and is credited for establishing the first humor anthology. A few years before her death in New York City, she published an autobiography, The Rest of My...

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