Lesbia Harford

Here you will find the Poem A Parlourmaid of poet Lesbia Harford

A Parlourmaid

'I want a parlourmaid.' 
'Well, let me see 
If you were God, what kind of maid she'd be.' 
'She would be tall, 
She would be fair, 
She would have slender limbs, 
A delicate air; 
And yet for all her beauty 
She would walk 
Among my guests unseen 
And through their talk 
Her voice would be the sweet voice of a bird, 
Not listened to, though heard.' 
'And now I know the girl you have in mind 
Tell me her duties, if you'd be so kind.' 
'Why, yes! 
She must know names of wines 
And never taste them? 
Must handle fragile cups 
And never break them? 
Must fill my rooms with flowers 
And never wear them? 
Must serve my daughter's secrets 
And not share them.' 
'Madam, you are no God, that's plain to see. 
I'll just repeat what you have said to me. 
You say your maid must look in Helen fashion 
Golden and white 
And yet her loveliness inspire no passion, 
Give no delight. 
Your intimate goods of home must owe their beauty 
To this girl's care 
But she'll not overstep her path of duty 
Nor seek to share 
Through loving or enjoying or possessing 
The least of them. 
Why, she's not human, by your own confessing, 
And you condemn 
Your rational self in every word you're speaking! 
Please understand 
You'll find the hollow maiden you are seeking 
In fairyland.'