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Dressing Down


“When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation),—sleep, eating, and swilling—buttoning and unbuttoning—how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse.”—Byron*


 

In 1792, or thereabouts, though in no way depressed,

Clad in a figured blue velvet tailcoat,

Colonel —— blew his brains out, leaving a paper on his desk

Saying that he’d been weary above all of getting dressed;

All that buttoning and unbuttoning, he opined,

exhausted one. No doubt!


George Gordon, Lord Byron, portrait by Thomas Phillips, ca. 1813


Lady ——, informed, too thought it best,

And donning a fashionable new petticoat,

Hanged herself in her bedroom closet like a stoat.


Luckily we aren’t reduced to such ostentatious means

Of escaping the tedium of the day-to-day,

Having handy by our bedsides phone, T-shirt and jeans,

We can accessorize our poor ends nowadays the digital way.

 

 

*Life, Letters, and Journals of Lord Byron (London: John Murray, 1833), entry for December 7, 1813, p. 213.

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