"She Just Wore Enough For Modesty–no More"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this long, monotonous poem written in several different metrical patterns like Tennyson's Maud and dedicated to Walt Whitman, who would hardly have appreciated it, Buchanan joins sentimentality and bathos to relate an impossible love story. Carrying the concept of the Noble Savage to an extreme, the love story opens with the capture of Eureka Hart by the Indians, who prove to be so kind and gentle that the poet confuses the American frontier with the Garden of Eden. Although he frequently interrupts the flow of his meager story to tell the reader that he knows better, Buchanan cannot conceal his aversion to genteel manners and, like many primitivists, is bitter in his unreasonable criticism of modern life. Still, the poem is significant, for, as nineteenth century England became more and more torn by controversy, men turned to their imaginations for the freedom of idyllic youth. This poem represents the excess to which such longing could lead. For example, the clothing of the Indian princess was

Nimbus enough of drapery
And ornament, just to suggest
The costume that became her best–
Her own brave beauty. She just wore
Enough for modesty–no more.
She was not, as white beauties seem,
Smother'd, like strawberries in cream,
With folds of silk and linen! No!