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How did they do the hair, one has to wonder;
Those perfect curls arranged in perfect rows?
To keep them in their place in flawless splendour
Was easy for the sculptor, I suppose.

Stone does not move, it keeps its shape for ages,
While hair is stirred by every humble breeze.
The images stand with the calm of sages,
The marble bust, the statue and the frieze.

Lavinia, Poppaea and Faustina,
Placidia, Titiania: noble dames.
Sabina, Agrippina, Messalina -
They had big hair, they also had big names.

One lady sported ringlets on her forehead,
Another donned a crown of wavy braids,
And one wore jewelled ribbons that supported
A lofty tower piled up by her maids.

A veritable halo of neat tresses -
One can’t help asking, was it all her own?
We’re told their wealth was not worn in their dresses;
So was their hair the way to make it known?

We hear of shaven slaves, of ornatrices,
Of curling tongs, of perfume and of pins,
Of golden hairnets, combs and false hairpieces,
Of egg white and of gruesome bleaching rinse.

How many hours were taken up by grooming?
How many hands employed to dress one head?
It seems a waste of time and work, assuming
They hairdressed down before they went to bed.

However, if I take a look around me,
On billboards and in glossy magazines
I see a host of hairstyles that astound me
No less than ancient Roman figurines.

These fancy hairdos owe their whole existence
To hair extensions, styling mousse, shampoo,
To every kind of chemical assistance,
To straighteners and perma-dyeing goo.

Inquisitive young women of the future
Will look at these a thousand years from now,
Will see these styles so far removed from nature
And think our pictures beg the question, how?