Short Summary of “A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed” by Jonathan Swift
The poem is not entirely a mockery on Corinna, but on women who implore their bodies for financial compensation in general. The poet has explained to every detail on how her every body part is artificially decorated and improvised using artificial created embellishments. It is also intended to create an impression in the reader’s mind on how woman in each era gives more time of her day into decorating herself with artificial stuff. Every line of the first half of the poem suggests the role of each adornment in beautifying the specific body part e.g. Press down the lumps, the Hollows fill. The use of metaphors like Plaster, Crystal Eye make it evident on how every body part was stuffed or covered with an outer adornment to make her look adorable.
The poet has put an imaginary situation in mind where the Corinna wakes up and finds all her adornments rendered useless. He imagines that the artificial body parts or artifices that she gets rid of every night go missing or some birds and animals have left them unfit to be adorned. In a satirical tone, he calls it a dreadful state when Corinna realizes that she can no longer wear those artifices that make her look pretty to the world.
Furthermore, the poet mockingly puts himself in a helpless state when he says: “But how shall I describe her Arts”. He wants to suggest that now since Corinna won’t be performing his habitual art of removing her artifices, the poet will have nothing to describe in his poem.
Also, a pitiable state of Corinna is presented since she will not be able to show off her beauty. The poet has portrayed Corinna in an ugly shape and lacking any natural beauty and indeed as a horrible looking woman who will be intolerable to the eyes and the senses of anyone who sees or comes close to her. She has nothing to boast of in her physical appearance if she is without the artifices that make her look presentable.
Through this poem the poet has criticized or mocked at the fact that the world is not as it seems on the surface. It is so artificial and unpleasant if you get a chance to see it below the surface.