A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed: Oh, How Hollywood

And you thought a nymph was a naturally lovely woodland creature. To be fair, so did we. But boy did Jonathan Swift prove us wrong.

AuthorSwift - Jonathan Swift
British Literature18th-Century British Literature
All British Literature
FormPoem
LanguageEnglish Language
Literature18th-Century Literature
British Literature
PoetryPoetry
ThemesIrony

Transcript

00:24

…we’re surprised the sun isn’t up by the time she’s under the covers.

00:28

This poem still holds up today, because it’s about timeless vanity, and the extreme lengths

00:33

many people will go to in order to achieve beauty.

00:36

Surprisingly, things haven’t changed that much since the 1700s.

00:40

As part of her nightly ritual, Swift’s subject removes her artificial hair at the end of

00:45

the day…

00:46

Today, some people wear hair extensions, everything from glued-in strands of real human hair to

00:51

a cheap, sewn-in polyester weave. While the modern gal dons fake eyelashes made

00:56

from mink fur…

00:57

…the classic nymph peels off eyebrows made from a mouse’s hide.

01:01

Not as sophisticated, but as long as she doesn’t dab on a beauty marks made from mouse droppings,

01:07

it’s not too bad. Ladies lacking in the bust department used

01:11

to use wadded-up rags to prop up… the girls.

01:15

Bosom technology is much more advanced today, ranging from push-up bras and chicken cutlets

01:20

for adding a little extra, all the way to implants.

01:23

Finally, if you have extra in all the wrong places, you used to need a small army of servants

01:29

to be roped into a steel-ribbed bodice.

01:32

Today, it’s as easy as pouring yourself into skin-tight Spanx, which transport your

01:38

fat to another dimension.

01:40

It’s likely that the 18th-century babe needed false teeth as an alternative to gumming her

01:44

corn on the cob.

01:46

Today, dental care is just as much about beauty as it is about health. Instead of false teeth,

01:52

we have veneers and UV-whitening.

01:54

Still, don’t go trying to open bottles with your chompers.

01:58

Whether it’s 18th-century or modern day, it takes a lot of extra work to achieve a

02:01

certain look.

02:03

What was Swift trying to say about beauty with this poem?

02:05

Does it still apply today? Shmoop amongst yourselves.