Dora versus Rose
by Austin Dobson (1840-1921)
From the tragic-est novels at Mudie’s—
At least, on a practical plan—
To the tales of mere Hodges and Judys,
One love is enough for a man.
But no case that I ever yet met is
Like mine: I am equally fond
Of Rose, who a charming brunette is,
And Dora, a blonde.
Each rivals the other in powers—
Each waltzes, each warbles, each paints—
Miss Rose, chiefly tumble-down towers;
Miss Do., perpendicular saints.
In short, to distinguish is folly;
’Twixt the pair I am come to the pass
Of Macheath, between Lucy and Polly,—
Or Buridan’s ass.
If it happens that Rosa I’ve singled
For a soft celebration in rhyme,
Then the ringlets of Dora get mingled
Somehow with the tune and the time;
Or I painfully pen me a sonnet
To an eyebrow intended for Do.’s,
And behold I am writing upon it
The legend “To Rose.”
Or I try to draw Dora (my blotter
Is all overscrawled with her head),
If I fancy at last that I’ve got her,
It turns to her rival instead;
Or I find myself placidly adding
To the rapturous tresses of Rose
Miss Dora’s bud-mouth, and her madding,
Was there ever so sad a dilemma?
For Rose I would perish (pro tem.);
For Dora I’d willingly stem a—
(Whatever might offer to stem);
But to make the invidious election,—
To declare that on either one’s side
I’ve a scruple,—a grain, more affection,
I cannot decide.
And, as either so hopelessly nice is,
My sole and my final resource
Is to wait some indefinite crisis,—
Some feat of molecular force,
To solve me this riddle conducive
By no means to peace or repose,
Since the issue can scarce be inclusive
Of Dora and Rose.
But, perhaps, if a third (say a Norah),
Not quite so delightful as Rose,—
Not wholly so charming as Dora,—
Should appear, is it wrong to suppose,—
As the claims of the others are equal,—
And flight—in the main—is the best,—
That I might … But no matter,—the sequel
Is easily guessed.