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Written by Desire of a Lady, on an Angry, Petulant Kitchen-Maid
by
Jane Cave Winscom


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Good Mistress Dishclout, what's the matter?
Why here the spoon--and there the platter?
What demon causes all this lowering,
Black as the pot you oft are scouring?
Hot as the fire you daily light,
Your speech with low invectives blight,
While rage impregnates every vein,
And dyes the face one crimson stain.
     Sure, someone has a word misplaced,
Or looked not equal to your taste;
Or, is this just the time you've chose
Your great acquirements to disclose,
Display the graces of your tongue,
Show with what eloquence 'tis hung,
As 'dog, rogue, scoundrel, scrub', what not,
And twenty more I've quite forgot:
Which prove to a demonstration
You've had a liberal education?
Such titles must enchant the ear,
And make the bounteous donor dear;
But while these bounties are dispensing,
I wish I'd learned the art of fencing,
Lest, while at John you aim to throw,
My nob should chance to catch the blow;
Then I should get a broken pate,
And marks of violence I hate.
     Good Mistress Dishclout, condescend
To hear the counsel of a friend:
When next you are disposed to brawl,
Pray let the scullery hear it all,
And learn to know your fittest place
Is with the dishes and the grease;
And, when you are inclined to battle,
Engage the skimmer, spit, or kettle,
Or any other kitchen guest,
Which you in wisdom might think best.

This poem is in the public domain.

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Jane Cave Winscom (1754 - 1813) was a Welsh poet who saw a number of her poems published during her lifetime. Daughter of a customs official who, in turn, married a customs official, many of Jane’s poems focused on domestic life--including the headaches that plagued her throughout her adult life. What little we know about her suggests she was intelligent and well-liked, probably a teacher or house servant, had a strong faith and was a social activist, and was most assuredly a little ahead of her time.


Post New Comment:
KevinArnold:
Indeed, generations before anyone heard of "women's lib," ahead of her time. Understated and clever. Good find.
Posted 01/14/2012 12:00 PM


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