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Frederick Locker-Lampson (Фредерик Локер-Лэмпсон)


On an Old Muff


TIME has a magic wand!
What is this meets my hand,
Moth-eaten, moldy, and
    Covered with fluff? 
Faded, and stiff, and scant;
Can it be? No, it can't--
Yes, I declare, it's Aunt
    Prudence's muff!

Years ago, twenty-three,
Old Uncle Doubledee
Gave it to Aunty P.
    Laughing and teasing: 
"Prue of the breezy curls,
Whisper those solemn churls,
What holds a pretty girl's
    Hand without squeezing?"

Uncle was then a lad
Gay, but, I grieve to add,
Sinful, if smoking bad
    Baccy's a vice; 
Glossy was then this mink
Muff, lined with pretty pink
Satin, which maidens think
    "Awfully nice."

I seem to see again
Aunt in her hood and train
Glide, with a sweet disdain,
    Gravely to Meeting; 
Psalm-book, and kerchief new,
Peeped from the Muff of Prue;
Young men, and pious too,
    Giving her greeting.

Sweetly her Sabbath sped
Then; from this Muff, it's said,
Tracts she distributed;
    Converts (till Monday!) 
Lured by the grace they lacked,
Followed her. One, in fact,
Asked for -- and got -- his tract
    Twice of a Sunday!

Love has a potent spell;
Soon this bold ne'er-do-well,
Aunt's too susceptible
    Heart undermining, 
Slipped, so the scandal runs,
Notes in the pretty nun's
Muff -- triple-cornered ones,
    Pink as its lining.

Worse followed: soon the jade
Fled (to oblige her blade!)
Whilst her friends thought they'd
    Locked her up tightly, 
After such shocking games
Aunt is of wedded dames
Gayest, and now her name's
    Mrs. Golightly.

In female conduct, flaw
Sadder I never saw.
Faith still I've in the law
    Of compensation. 
Once Uncle went astray,
Smoked, joked, and swore away;
Sworn by he's now, by a
    Large congregation.

Changed is the Child of Sin;
Now he's (he once was thin)
Grave, with a double chin--
    Blessed be his fat form! 
Changed is the garb he wore,
Preacher was never more
Prized than is Uncle for
    Pulpit or platform.

If all's as best befits
Mortals of slender wits,
Then beg this Muff and its
    Fair Owner pardon. 
All's for the best, indeed --
Such is my simple creed;
Still I must go and weed
    Hard in my garden.



Frederick Locker-Lampson's other poems:
  1. A Word That Makes Us Linger
  2. At her Window
  3. To My Grandmother
  4. My Mistress's Boots
  5. A Terrible Infant


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