In this poem devoted to a disobedient little girl, one sees how Ashby-Sterry viewed younger girls in a much different way than the teenagers he loved tenderly. He speaks of her in a patronising way, calls her ‘pet’, and threatens her with an insignificant caricature of punishment, in particular of parental violence, using instruments such as feathers, roses or kisses.
P E T’ S P U N I S H M E N T.
O IF my love offended me,
And we had words together,
To show her I would master be,
I’d whip her with a feather!
If then she, like a naughty girl,
Would tyranny declare it,
I’d give my pet a cross of pearl,
And make her always bear it.
If still she tried to sulk and sigh,
And threw away my posies,
I’d catch my darling on the sly,
And smother her with roses!
But should she clench her dimpled fists,
Or contradict her betters,
I’d manacle her tiny wrists
With dainty golden fetters.
And if she dared her lips to pout—
Like many pert young misses—
I’d wind my arm her waist about,
And punish her—with kisses!
Source of the poem: Joseph Ashby-Sterry, Boudoir Ballads, London: Chatto and Windus, Piccadilly (1876).