Great Dresses in Literature (Economic Impact Edition): The Tea-Gown

by Erin on August 26, 2006

My lady has a tea-gown
That is wondrous fair to see,
It is flounced and ruffed and plaited and puffed,
As a tea-gown ought to be;
And I thought she must be jesting
Last night at supper when
She remarked, by chance, that it came from France,
And had cost but two pounds ten.

Had she told me fifty shillings,
I might (and wouldn't you?)
Have referred to that dress in a way folks express
By an eloquent dash or two;
But the guileful little creature
Knew well her tactics when
She casually said that that dream in red
Had cost but two pounds ten.

Yet our home is all the brighter
For that dainty, sentient thing,
That floats away where it properly may,
And clings where it ought to cling;
And I count myself the luckiest
Of all us married men
That I have a wife whose joy in life
Is a gown at two pounds ten.

It isn't the gown compels me
Condone this venial sin;
It's the pretty face above the lace,
And the gentle heart within.
And with her arms about me
I say, and say again,
" 'Twas wondrous cheap," — and I think a heap
Of that gown at two pounds ten!

It isn't the gown compels me
Condone this venial sin;
It's the pretty face above the lace,
And the gentle heart within.
And with her arms about me
I say, and say again,
" 'Twas wondrous cheap," — and I think a heap
Of that gown at two pounds ten!

Eugene Field

(from The Poems of Eugene Field)

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

noraneedles August 26, 2006 at 11:36 am

I read this one aloud to my sweetie this morning and we shared a laugh, even before we did the research and math required (for those of us who remain baffled by British currency) to figure out the joke of the second stanza (which is that 50 shillings is the same amount as two pounds ten). I love the “dresses in literature” segment of Dress A Day! Thanks for the laugh, though it were partly one of guilty self-recognition – though our lines tend to be “well, it was vintage, and it fit! It cost $x, but look what good shape it’s in, and those buttons! and those bound buttonholes…the craftmasnship…such a find…I HAD to get it!” Decent vintage stuff is my equivalent of “came from France.”

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Erin August 26, 2006 at 11:49 am

That’s a really great poem! Thanks for posting it!

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Anonymous August 26, 2006 at 12:56 pm

Really nice to see a poem like this, that is both well written, and fun! Wish I had a place to wear a “Tea-Gown!” Or even that a nice one would fit me.

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Minya, Warrior Seamstress August 26, 2006 at 1:43 pm

Now I want to get La Mode Bagatelle’s pattern for Artistic Reform Tea-Gowns, and make it up in red. I always thought tea-gowns were white or pastels.

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Cathy August 26, 2006 at 2:42 pm

I love the pleasure he takes in his wife and her red dress!

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Jules August 26, 2006 at 9:51 pm

I love it! I love metered, rhyming poetry, immature child that I am. :)However, when I checked your google books link, I find there’s one more stanza. Here it is:It isn’t the gown compels meCondone this venial sin;It’s the pretty face above the lace,And the gentle heart within.And with her arms about meI say, and say again,” ‘Twas wondrous cheap,” — and I think a heapOf that gown at two pounds ten!

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Oblivious Maven August 26, 2006 at 9:52 pm

What a nice twist, I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

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Becky August 27, 2006 at 8:14 am

I’m pleased to read the poetry responses!

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Erin August 27, 2006 at 2:59 pm

Thanks Jules! I fixed it!

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Floridaprincess August 29, 2006 at 1:45 am

I always thought tea dresses were in pastels or white. I want one in red now. A tea dress for $3.05 what a deal!!! Great poem thanks for sharing this.

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Anonymous September 6, 2006 at 8:39 pm
Anonymous September 6, 2006 at 8:39 pm

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Anonymous September 6, 2006 at 8:39 pm

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