"O 'MELIA, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?"—
"O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.

"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"—
"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.

—"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,'
And 'thik oon,' and 'theäs oon,' and 't'other'; but now
Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!"—
"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.

—"Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"—
"We never do work when we're ruined," said she.

—"You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"—
"True. One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.

—"I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!"—
"My dear—a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that. You ain't ruined," said she. —Westbourne Park Villas (1866)

First published in Poems of the Past and Present, 2nd. edition (London: Macmillan: 1903): 192-94. Transcribed from The Works of Thomas Hardy (Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth, 1994), p. 145-46. Checked against The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 5th edition, ed. M. H. Abrams (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987), p. 2211-12.

Form: aabb [couplet] rhyme appropriate to verse satire; two personas speak contrapuntally, one in Dorset dialect, the other in London English; the metre is iambics and uneven tetrameters, usually eleven syllables per line. [PVA]


Line 6: "spudding up docks" = "digging up weeds with a chisel-headed spade.

Line 9: "barton" = Dorset dialect for "barn" or "farmyard."

Line 19: "megrims" = Dorset dialect for "migraine headaches."

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Last modified 24 January 2006