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Has it gone into exile on islands
or to secret cabals in the Highlands?
Did it vacate, go bankrupt or rise
to a challenge in some other guise?
Did it perish of shame or severe
paranoia, or shrink from a leer?
Where is that former banality?
Or even its unreality?

It may have been meant as a respite
when faced with a suitor or despot
who had tendered a vile proposition
too shocking for standard cognition
and one needed a lie-down to think
about ploys that could deal with red ink.
It’s more modest than being confessed
or imposed on, or even undressed.

Still, no one has claimed
fainting harmed or defamed
a creature as frail
as a corseted, pale
young lady for sale
to a bidder of note
who had offered his coat
across the great puddle
of general muddle.