Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “Dorothy: a Country Story.” IV. Beauty at the Plough

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Arthur Joseph Munby b. 1828

From “Dorothy: a Country Story.” IV. Beauty at the Plough

THUS then, one beautiful day, in the sweet, cool air of October,

High up on Breakheart Field, under the skirts of the wood,

Dolly was ploughing: she wore (why did I not sooner describe it?)

Just such a dress as they all—all the farm-servants around;

Only, it seem’d to be hers by a right divine and a fitness—

Color and pattern and shape suited so aptly to her.

First, on her well-set head a lilac hood-bonnet of cotton,

Framing her amberbright hair, shading her neck from the sun;

Then, on her shoulders a shawl; a coarse red kerchief of woolen,

Matching the glow of her cheeks, lighting her berry-brown skin;

Then came a blue cotton frock—dark blue, and spotted with yellow—

Sleev’d to the elbows alone, leaving her bonny arms bare;

So that those ruddy brown arms, with the dim, dull blue for a background

Seem’d not so rough as they were—softer in color and grain.

All round her ample waist her frock was gather’d and kilted,

Showing her kirtle, that hung down to the calf of the leg:

Lancashire linsey it was, with bands of various color

Striped on a blue-gray ground: sober, and modest, and warm;

Showing her stout firm legs, made stouter by home-knitted stockings;

Ending in strong laced boots, such as a ploughman should wear:

Big solid ironshod boots, that added an inch to her stature;

Studded with nails underneath, shoed like a horse, at the heels.

After a day at plough, all clotted with earth from the furrows,

Oh, how unlike were her boots, Rosa Matilda, to yours!