Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sofas

We need a small two seater sofa for the small room downstairs, not the one above, it only illustrates the poem below by William Cowper in the 18th century.  But internet shopping brings up so many, Laura Ashley a bit too expensive, DFS what is 'the comfort factor' in their cheaper stock. IKEA you have to put together the flat pack sofa - no way says LS.  
Well whatever we end up with, Cowper's part poem below about sofas seems to fit the bill, 200 years ago, challenged by a lady friend to write about sofas, he wrote 'The Task'....
At length a generation more refined
Improved the simple plan, made three legs four,
Gave them a twisted form vermicular,
And o’er the seat, with plenteous wadding stuffed,
Induced a splendid cover green and blue,
Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought
And woven close, or needlework sublime.
There might ye see the peony spread wide,
The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass,
Lapdog and lambkin with black staring eyes,
And parrots with twin cherries in their beak.

   Now came the cane from India, smooth and bright
With Nature’s varnish; severed into stripes
That interlaced each other, these supplied,
Of texture firm, a lattice-work that braced
The new machine, and it became a chair.
But restless was the chair; the back erect
Distressed the weary loins that felt no ease;
The slippery seat betrayed the sliding part
That pressed it, and the feet hung dangling down,
Anxious in vain to find the distant floor.
These for the rich: the rest, whom fate had placed
In modest mediocrity, content
With base materials, sat on well-tanned hides
Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth,
With here and there a tuft of crimson yarn,
Or scarlet crewel in the cushion fixed:
If cushion might be called, what harder seemed
Than the firm oak of which the frame was formed.
No want of timber then was felt or feared
In Albion’s happy isle.  The lumber stood
Ponderous, and fixed by its own massy weight.
But elbows still were wanting; these, some say,
An alderman of Cripplegate contrived,
And some ascribe the invention to a priest
Burly and big, and studious of his ease.
But rude at first, and not with easy slope
Receding wide, they pressed against the ribs,
And bruised the side, and elevated high
Taught the raised shoulders to invade the ears.
Long time elapsed or e’er our rugged sires
Complained, though incommodiously pent in,
And ill at ease behind.  The ladies first
Gan murmur, as became the softer sex.
Ingenious fancy, never better pleased
Than when employed to accommodate the fair,
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devised
The soft settee; one elbow at each end,
And in the midst an elbow, it received,
United yet divided, twain at once.
So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne;
And so two citizens who take the air,
Close packed and smiling in a chaise and one.
But relaxation of the languid frame
By soft recumbency of outstretched limbs,
Was bliss reserved for happier days; so slow
The growth of what is excellent, so hard
To attain perfection in this nether world.
Thus first necessity invented stools,
Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs,
And luxury the accomplished Sofa last.

2 comments:

  1. Lovely post Thelma - how I laughed too. I think that colour is far too pale for our life up here in the sticks don't you?

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  2. Yes, the colour is too pale, got it from one of my favourite shops in Bath - Rossiters, always used to have sumptous expensive sofas.... Just loved Cowper's poem on the subject...

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