Is beauty really just that which does not cause pain to look at ("bad for the eyes") or that reaches some minimum standard to be called "proper"? Is it efficiency? Is it brevity? Expressiveness? Self-documentation? Maintainability? Simplicity? Uniformity? Cleverness? All of these are identifiable as positive attributes, but is any one, or some combination, a sufficient definition of beautiful code? Still further, is it possible to evaluate the aesthetic appeal of code independent of the problem it is trying to solve?
Aside from the fact that it's nearly impossible to get two people to agree on a standard of beauty, programmers are notoriously idiosyncratic, especially in as syntactically forgiving a language as Perl. Add to this the fact that the OP wants HTML authors to appreciate the allegedly beautiful code and you have an absurdity. You can show me the most finely-crafted, moving, subtle sentence ... in Turkish ... and I couldn't distinguish it from the drunken rantings scrawled on a bathroom stall. I don't know Turkish.
Sorry to be a wet blanket (again), but this really is a futile exercise. If the intention is to demonstrate to people unfamiliar with Perl that it is a valuable language, show them how to solve problems with it. Show them what it can do, because they simply haven't got the necessary experience to appreciate whatever notion of beauty the code itself allegedly possesses.
I agree with everything you say, apart from "this is a futile exercise".
It's not a matter of finding the most beautiful code, because we all know opinions differ. It's just a matter of finding code that is reasonably well written to be understood with... well, at least with not so many problems as with the first example I showed.
I'd love to see your code review if you were on my team :) We have 7 guys all coding Perl at various levels of "Beauty".
But they stick to some key rules for the sanity of the team:
comment often - I can scan comments a lot quicker than code to get to the bit I need to work on
indent 4 spaces - trivial, but helps a lot in terms of indentation expectations when reading nested stuff
use common code if it exists - just plain sensible
dereference using $var-> rather than $$var (it's just plain more readable)
Of course, not everyone sticks to all these rules, all the time - and the times that they haven't have caused real pain (well, at least for item one on the list, especially on old code)
Maybe you're old school - obscurity is job security. Wouldn't work here. If I can't drop into your code and scan a page in a couple of seconds and understand it, my job is harder, and your responsibilities would suddenly scale back ;-)