It’s not often my research makes me laugh, and even less often does it involve poetry, but today I experienced both! From the South Bourke and Mornington Journal, Richmond, Victoria (Australia), of Wednesday 5th December 1883, comes this tragic and perhaps cautionary tale, penned by an anonymous poet:

We were sitting by the fire,
  And the tender twilight gloom
Made a picturesque interior
  Of the “friezed” and “dadoed” room:
For my fair Elsie was cultured
  In the most aesthetic style—
She grew wild upon her patters,
  And quite raved upon a “tile.”

She could carve a dainty bracket,
  She could paint a silken screen;
She could broider birds and beetles
  Such as eye had never seen.
She had decorated beer-jugs
  In the highest style of art,
And her bric-a-brac collection
  Was the treasure of her heart.

But I loved her—ah, I loved her,
  As she sat beside me there,
With a comb of antique silver
  Looping back her golden hair!
How I loved that sweet face, hidden
  By the hideous painted fan,
On which sprawled such fearful monsters
  As hail only from Japan!

The flame leaped up and flickered— 
  Was its glow upon her cheek?
Or did tender, changing blushes
  Tell my coward heart to speak?
One white, dainty hand was fluttering,
  Like a snow-bird on her knee.
Ah. sweet trembler, was it waiting
  To be caught and pressed by me?

I must speak now—now or never!
  Perish all my doubts and fears.
I must speak! Hope’s sudden sunburst
  Seemed to flush the coming years
I must speak—the spell was broken!
  Fierce, impassioned, fearless, rash,
I fell on my knees before her— 
  Fell with—horrors! what a crash!

Such a crash, it echoed round me
  Like the final crack of doom!
For her eyes’ volcanic fires
  Seemed to light the shadowed room.
I had toppled o’er a table,
 Full of strange Pompeian-ware,
And I caught my hat and vanished—
  How, I didn’t know or care.

Twas my last, my farewell visit
  To that charmer of my heart;
I discreetly left my goddess
  To the worship of her art.
She was married to old Golding,
  On a pleasant day last week.
He is flabby, fat, and sixty—
  So a valuable antique.