Strange Lady

In Lancashire county on a farm in a dell
With lakes, woodlands, and bucolic views,
A proper 19th century, Victorian lady
Dwelt in long woolen skirts that reached to her shoes.

Middle aged and unmarried, not rich but genteel,
Such ladies were not to live lives of the mind,
But rather be unprepossessing, pious, and quiet,
Prudish a little, and above all... refined.

In her day, women did not have professions.
Their duty first was to guard their repute,
And so were encouraged to take up a hobby,
Music, drawing, sewing... some docile pursuit.

As mushrooms grew where our lady took outings
In woodlands and wetlands where she was acquainted,
She began to collect, dissect, and describe them,
Detailing their features in drawings she painted.

Her gossipy neighbors who lived in the dell
(Of true friends she didnít have many)
But those who kept tabs on female decorum
Found her interest in fungi as harmless as any.

And so, in proper anonymous stillness,
She lived on as the end of the century neared.
Then imagine the shock and the stern disbelief when
MRS. TITTLEMOUSE and TIMMY TIPTOES appeared.

And then, before Lancashire folks could recover
Or decide if these products blasphemed or were nice,
JEMIMA PUDDLE-DUCK, MRS. TIGGY-WINKLE,
THE ROLY-POLY PUDDING
, and TWO BAD MICE.

THE PIE AND THE PADDY PAN caused a great scandal,
But ere the town elders could rally and stop it,
SAM WHISKERS, SQUIRREL NUTKIN, BENJAMIN BUNNY,
GINGER AND PICKLES, PIGLING BLAND
, and MISS MOPPET.

Out they poured. The poor woman could not stop her pen,
Possessed by some strange scribbling habit...
TOM KITTEN, FLOPSY BUNNIES, MR. TOWN MOUSE,
FARMER McGREGOR
, and of course, PETER RABBIT.

She sketched them and inked them and painted them too,
And the grand reputation they got her
For beguiling our children for decades on end
Was the glory of Beatrix Potter.