This light-hearted poem by Charles Crawford is packed with poetic allusion, and with classical, medieval, and medievalist references. We find mention of several beautiful women from classical antiquity: Queen Semiramis, Eurydice, Judith, Cytheris, and Helen of Troy. However, this is similar to a listing that renowned medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer provides in The Parliament of Fowls. There is also a barely altered line from Adam Lindsay Gordon’s medievalist poem Joyous Garde, which Crawford renders: “And mute and still I stood, until” (as opposed to Gordon’s “And I stood watching [...] still and mute”). They amount to much the same thing: the fascinated and enraptured male gaze. Additionally, there is half a line from a poem by American writer and columnist Nixon Waterman, and Charles Swinburne is represented through use of the descriptive phrase “[That in] my veins like wine.” Yet, this poem is not some wistful legend revived by Sir Walter Scott or Lord Tennyson as the title would suggest. It is an Australian poem (for we hear “The bell-bird’s call”) and a pragmatic worldly poem, which rather pokes fun at nostalgic Romantic styles:
But shame on it, to think a bit
Of muslin skirt,
Combined with witchery and wit,
And Venus modelled into it
Should get beneath a fellow’s guard,
And hit him straight and hit him hard.