Interlude

Edith Sitwell - 1887-1964
Amid this hot green glowing gloom	 
A word falls with a raindrop's boom...	 
  
Like baskets of ripe fruit in air	 
The bird-songs seem, suspended where	 
  
Those goldfinches—the ripe warm lights	         
Peck slyly at them—take quick flights.	 
  
My feet are feathered like a bird	 
Among the shadows scarcely heard;	 
  
I bring you branches green with dew	 
And fruits that you may crown anew	  
  
Your whirring waspish-gilded hair	 
Amid this cornucopia—	 
  
Until your warm lips bear the stains	 
And bird-blood leap within your veins.

More by Edith Sitwell

Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe

Green apples dancing in a wash of sun—
Ripples of sense and fun—
A net of light that wavers as it weaves
The sunlight on the chattering leaves;
The half-dazed sound of feet,
And carriages that ripple in the heat.
The parasols like shadows of the sun
Cast wavering shades that run
Across the laughing faces and across
Hair with a bird-bright gloss.
The swinging greenery casts shadows dark,
Hides me that I may mark
How, buzzing in this dazzling mesh, my soul
Seems hardening it to flesh, and one bright whole.
O sudden feathers have a flashing sheen!
The sun’s swift javelin
The bird-songs seem, that through the dark leaves pass;
And life itself is but a flashing glass.

At the Fair

                  I. Springing Jack

Green wooden leaves clap light away,
Severely practical, as they

Shelter the children candy-pale,
The chestnut-candles flicker, fail . . .

The showman’s face is cubed clear as
The shapes reflected in a glass

Of water—(glog, glut, a ghost’s speech
Fumbling for space from each to each).

The fusty showman fumbles, must
Fit in a particle of dust

The universe, for fear it gain
Its freedom from my cube of brain.

Yet dust bears seeds that grow to grace
Behind my crude-striped wooden face

As I, a puppet tinsel-pink
Leap on my springs, learn how to think—

Till like the trembling golden stalk
Of some long-petalled star, I walk

Through the dark heavens, and the dew
Falls on my eyes and sense thrills through. 

 

Related Poems

Interlude: Still Still

Inside the hole, where it's yellow, 
the boy has dropped a quarter 
so that the guitar rattles

when he shakes it by the neck. 
Knocks, scrapes, scars. 
So this is what music is.

The wooden body is no longer 
bigger than his body. 
The strings, which, when

he strums them, 
go on forever are forever 
wound around small pegs

shaped like the big ones 
they wrap the ropes around, 
there being an absence of

able-bodied mourners 
to lower, with the softer machines 
of their bodies, the coffin down.

It was a cold day.
The boy had not been born yet, 
but stood among us

warm in his round place. 
Then, from the distance,
the bagpiper who'd been found

in the yellow pages 
extracted the horizon note 
like a red needle from the sky.

And so it was not with nothing 
human our friend was lowered. 
This is what music is.

But how did it sound to the boy, 
the bladder of cries squeezed 
through the slit throat

when there had not been anything 
yet to cry about?
The solace of music is

not that we recognize it. 
It is that the hearing 
comes from before and is wound

around after. Between, 
our bad singing a stranger 
dozed, then bulldozed to.

At home, in its case, the guitar 
was hunkered inside the dark 
into which music goes,

and the more particular dark 
from which music comes 
was inside of it.

The sound hole swallowed and passed back 
buckets of silence
until the inner and outer dark

had the same yellow smell. 
This, while the song the boy 
would pay for waited, still still.