FREAKS OF FASHION
BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI
Such a hubbub in the nests,
Such a bustle and squeak!
Nestlings, guiltless of a feather,
Learning just to speak,
Ask - "And how about the fashions?"
From a cavernous beak.
Perched on bushes, perched on hedges,
Perched on firm hahas,
Perched on anything that holds them,
Gay papas and grave mammas
Teach the knowledge-thirsty nestlings:
Hear the gay papas.
Robin says: "A scarlet waistcoat
Will be all the wear,
Snug, and also cheerful-looking
For the frostiest air,
Comfortable for the chest too
When one comes to plume and pair."
"Neat gray hoods will be in vogue,"
Quoth a Jackdaw: "Glossy gray,
Setting close, yet setting easy,
Suited to our misty mornings,
A la negligée."
Flushing salmon, flushing sulphur,
Answer - "Hoods may do for mornings,
But for evenings choose
High head-dresses, curved like crescents,
Such as well-bred persons use."
"Top-knots, yes; yet more essential
Still, a train or tail,"
Screamed the Peacock: "Gemmed and lustrous
Not too stiff, and not too frail;
Those are best which rearrange as
Fans, and spread or trail."
Spoke the Swan, entrenched behind
An inimitable neck:
"After all, there's nothing sweeter
For the lawn or lake
Than simple white, if fine and flaky
And absolutely free from speck."
"Yellow," hinted a Canary,
"Warmer, not less distingué."
"Peach color," put in a Lory,
"Cannot look outré."
"All the colors are in fashion,
And are right," the Parrots say.
"Very well. But do contrast
Piped a Blackbird, justly proud
Of bill auriferous;
"Half the world may learn a lesson
As to that from us."
Then a Stork took up the word:
"Aim at height and chic:
Not high heels, they're common; somehow,
Stilted legs, not thick,
Nor yet thin:" he just glanced downward
And snapped to his beak.
Here a rustling and a whirring,
As of fans outspread,
Hinted that mammas felt anxious
Lest the next thing said
Might prove less than quite judicious,
Or even underbred.
So a mother Auk resumed
The broken thread of speech:
"Let colors sort themselves, my dears,
Yellow, or red, or peach;
The main points, as it seems to me,
We mothers have to teach,
"Are form and texture, elegance,
An air reserved, sublime;
The mode of wearing what we wear
With due regard to month and clime.
But now, let's all compose ourselves,
It's almost breakfast-time."
A hubbub, a squeak, a bustle!
Who cares to chatter or sing
With delightful breakfast coming?
Yet they whisper under the wing:
"So we may wear whatever we like,