That Reply of the ‘Girl Next Door’

blind girl next door

Blind girl next door (image credit: Wikipedia)

Folksy doggerel!

Showing that scraps of Chinuk Wawa had already become part of Settlers’ English well within the frontier era.

Today’s verse is an answer poem to the original ‘Girl Next Door’ published two weeks earlier.

Both are jokey and slangy, fun to read if you’re willing to make the effort.

For instance, the reference to “writing ‘hit’ ” seems to make use of a stereotype of Deep South people’s pronunciation of “it” influencing their writing style.

The poem below appears next to some exasperated editorial comments about President Andrew Johnson, who had been impeached earlier in the year. Everything old becomes new again!

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That Reply of the “Girl Next Door.”

Now that’s a pretty fashion
     To start in after me — 
‘Cause I ain’t on the marry, 
     (Except when on a spree)!
To be called a fanther’d bird,
     With eyes as white as chalk,
Is most terribly absurd,
     And only amounts to “talk!”

What! compare my cheeks to a rose,
     (Just now with mildew struck)!
And speak of my sweet “turn-up nose”
     As ‘though [sic] I was out of luck!
I ‘spose [sic] if I’d not been born at all
     You’d not have cared a pin;
Then I’d not resemble a “fishing-rod,”
     And not been fond of “gin!”

“Beau’y is but skin deep”
     And is very like to blunder!
So, if “beauty” don’t like “the style,”
     Why, she can go to thunder!
My “mustache” may be as “yaller”
     As old Kentucky jeans.
But that don’t make me a “feller,”
     By any manner o’ means !

When writing onto a “guessing-mark,”
     Please to remember this :
It’s just like kissing in the dark — 
     Ignorance is bliss!
No matter where or who you hit,
     If you’ll keep a ‘[‘]closh tum-tum,” [1]
You’ll not be accused of writing ‘”hit,”
     And never found out, “by gum!”

I’m done — my books are closed — 
     1868 its course has almost run!
Leap Year’s passed and I’ve no wife,
     Or likelihood of one!
I’ve looked my “sweetest” all the year — 
     In vain I’ve looked cross-eyed!
Nary a damsel did come near
     And ask to be my bride! 

‘Tis well ! I’ll fill my “keg”
     With good old gen’rous rye,
And to hopes of matrimonial bliss
     I’ll bid a last good-bye!
But when in a gay old “mellow tone”
     I’ll set me down and sing:
ln my house there’s no “contentious bone”
     About the ‘”marriage ring!”

— from the Albany (OR) Register of December 19, 1868, page 3, column 3

The Settler English phrase “closh tum-tum“, from Chinook Jargon, [1] is well translated (in the misprinted phrase < byass closh tum-tum > for hayas-łúsh tə́mtəm ‘very-good heart’) as ‘soft spot’ in the same era by William J. Warren of the US Boundary Commission. 

What do you think?