I love the wry humour of this poem. A maid meets a former colleague in town and waxes lyrical regarding her fine dress and manners. In response “the ruined maid” responds that her former companion can not possibly look and act in the same polished manner as “you aint ruined said she”. The lady doing the envying remains oblivious throughout the poem to the fact that her previous companion is the mistress of some wealthy gentleman which adds to the humour.
THE RUINED MAID BY THOMAS HARDY
“‘Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?”–“O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?” said she. “You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!”–“Yes: that’s how we dress when we’re ruined,” said she. — “At home in the barton you said `thee’ and `thou,’And `thik oon,’ and `theäs oon,’ and `t’other’; but nowYour talking quite fits ‘ee for high compa-ny!”–“Some polish is gained with one’s ruin,” said she. — “Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleakBut now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!”–“We never do work when we’re ruined,” said she. — “You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seemTo know not of megrims or melancho-ly!”–“True. One’s pretty lively when ruined,” said she. — “I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!”–“My dear — a raw country girl, such as you be,Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,” said she.