Monday, July 9, 2012

Regency in Rhyming Verse

Forgive my not being around these last few weeks. I know I mentioned something about a series awhile back, but I'm still moving from the old house. Problem is, it's been hovering in the low 100's here in NC for the last fortnight and the heat is just sucking the life right out of me.

But here for your viewing pleasure is a poem my very dear friend, Mr. Robert Van de Laak has written for me that I would like to share with you. It's very clever, indeed, and I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.

To Anne

In years gone by, a chef was she,
Cooking meals, for you and me.
But aches and pains across her spine,
Put an end to such food divine.
After many years of making meals,
She put away her knives and steels.

That strange white coat she used to wear,
Is gone now, and she’s loosed her hair.
The hat she wore to keep it hidden,
Lies in the cupboard now, unbidden.
If you’ve not tried it, please be told,
A chef’s long shift soon makes you old.

So, Anne’s given up her ladle, and taken up the pen,
She’s moved out of the kitchen, to sit now in the den.
She writes of England, in those times,
When Lords, and Ladies suffered climes
Which seem much worse now, looking back,
As castles then were cold and black.

Of regencies, by fat old princes,
Whose morals too, caused many winces.
The clothes, I’ll grant, were more explicit,
Off the shoulder, “Ooh, exquisite!”
The men, you see, had all the pleasures,
Viewing up close the young girls’ treasures.

What fascinates us now, I ponder,
Just what went on in that land yonder.
The best of men went off to France,
While fops, and fribbles, stayed to dance.
At balls, cotillions, fairs, and routs,
They spent their days in drunken bouts.

Some men came back from Hooky’s wars,
Some in one piece, some carried sores.
From fights in Portugal, or Spain,
In dust, or dirt, or driving rain.
To marry rich, appealed to many,
The family’s poor, we haven’t got a single penny.

“My brother, Sir, he was the heir,
While fighting Bony, he died there.
I was there too, at Waterloo,
And now I’m back, what must I do?
My father died, the coffer’s bare,
The estate’s ruined, I was the spare!”

“The flower of English manhood lost,
Never did we expect to pay such cost.
We went to war, for King and country,
What did we get, for our effrontery?
The noble familes of this nation.
Suffering now, through much privation!”

My factor, limping on his crutch,
”I’ll tell you sir, it’s all too much.
The estate is broken, and unless,
You marry quick, and an heiress,
You’ll find despite your best orison,
Soon you’ll be in debtor’s prison!”

“So you see, sir, it makes me sick,
Soon I’ll be at the river Tick.
I’m still so young, I’d rather tarry,
But my lawyer, sir, he bids me “MARRY!”
I now have a title, your daughter-wealth,
I’d wed her in church, or even by stealth.”

Manufactories in Sheffield , ‘Brum’,
Mills for cloth, began to hum.
Their owners, smart, came into money,
Said to their daughters, “There, there, Honey.
The ‘ton’ is poor, and with all my blunt,
The marriage mart for a spouse you’ll hunt”

They may turn up their big, noble beak,
But money shouts, it doesn’t squeak!
Where riches are, some men will jump,
No, No, my dear, forget your hump!
He’s poor, you’re rich, he’ll take the hint,
He’ll marry you, despite that squint!

“What’s that? Marry for love?
What ever are you thinking of?
That whole idea’s just a con,
You’ll soon see THAT within the ‘ton’.
They care not who, or even where,
Once they’ve begotten their damned heir!

If you are careful, nay discreet,
Take who you like up in your suite!
A strong young footman, or a valet,
Invite them quietly in to your salle’.
Your maid of course you’d have to trust,
'cause otherwise, your name is bust.

But as you’re rich, not dumb, but clever,
You should reward her quiet endeavour.
Perhaps you’ll find that she would rather,
For her own child acquire a father.
On your estates in nearby Kent,
You JUST might know of such a gent!
Your husband grows sugar in Jamaica,
Maybe his manager, out there might take her.
Deceit? I know, can be a pain,
But, so’s  the love you have to feign. 
I’d think it through, before you start,
Lest others think to call you “Tart!”

To Gretna Green, so many fled,
In disgrace, or too young to wed.
Over the anvil, or by priest,
But married you are, to say the least.
You won’t have to bear any cruel teasing,
Though all can see that you’re increasing!

The ladies talked while taking tea,
Their pinkies held out straight, you see.
The conventions were all of side saddle,
They condemned the one who rode astraddle.
They were just hoydens and uncouth,
“Forgive them dear, it’s just their youth.”

Reputation destroyed, by malicious mouth,
Of family names were all sent south.
“We must defeat the opposition,
Fight and beat, the competition.
To achieve in marriage, a duke or earl,
Avoiding of course, the untitled churl.”

I’ve read a lot of these fine novels,
The rich lived well, the poor in hovels.
But there’s one thing where authors cavil,
So many horses, used for travel.
Horses pulled the curricles, and carts,
Yet no one ever mentions FARTS!

To Bath each year, so many went,
To drink the waters, and repent
Them of their gross excesses,
They all imagined they had stresses.
So many meals, so many course
Such lovely foods, and all those sauces.

The waters, we know, were quite revolting,
Yet each year they went, exulting.
The men in wigs, even some women,
As we know now, and they knew then,
Their wigs, their hair, with glorious “perms” in,’
Often hid lice, and other vermin!

The next stanza I should abhor,
But I simply can’t, will not ignore.
Their personal hygiene I fear,
Does not come through so loud and clear.
Soap of the day was harsh and strong,
Made from lye, potash, felt wrong.

A dedicated room for washing?
“Oh my dear, you must be joshing!
Some hot water in a bowl, a cloth, some soap,
A quick swipe and there, we’ll cope.
After that, just like the French,
Our bodies in perfume we’ll drench!

Softer soap from across the Channel,
Feels so good, on a nice new flannel.
Softly scented, violets, roses,
Does not offend those genteel noses.
Even strong scents from India far,
Helped to hide some smells, like tar!

We read of powder, patch, and pearls,
Hair up, or down, straight, or in curls.
“A cap sleeve now, on both your shoulder,
 No, lower dear, it looks much bolder!
If coy you are, then wear a fichu,
You can even bulk it out with tissue!

Your honour lost? “Oh, quel horreur!”
Was it love, or rape, by force majeur?
No other choice now, off you hie,
We’ll hope it’s forgotten, by and by.
If all else fails, you go abroad,
Perhaps you’ll wed some foreign lord.

Have you enjoyed these word  ajumble?
Such English words I love to tumble.
For me, It started with Miss Heyer,
Her times and gentry lit my fire.
Poetry should scan, and rhyme,
 Prose is not so near sublime!

(c) 2012 Robert Van de Laak

Wasn't that just fantastic? Robert is an amazing copy editor/proofreader (you can find his website here) and as you can see, a fabulous poet.


  1. Yes, it IS fantastic... both the poem, and the fact that he cared enough to write it for you. I don't envy you trying to move in this ungodly heat.

  2. Wow! Amazing fun. So well done! That's a good friend!

  3. Bish -- Isn't it just. He's told me he's written more Regency verse as well. Can't wait.

    Susan -- yes, he's a very nice man. And I had to stop moving yesterday. Needed a break. It's finally raining so yay for me.

    Liza -- I know, I could never write stuff like this. He pops it out like water.

  4. I love this. It really caught my imagination :)

    Enjoy your rain - it's raining here, too!

  5. Oh how cool, Anne! You have a talented friend who also appears to have a nice sense of humor.


  6. How charming, Anne! And what a talent friend you have. I have nothing but admiration for people who can write such things. A gift, indeed :)


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