Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"a rococo palace of blunders"

That's what Wyndham Lewis called Edith Sitwell's Aspects of Modern Poetry. Lewis was a total dick, and never one to offer real criticism when a smart-ass descriptor would suffice, but I kind of like this one. I work on publicity, personality, and flamboyant excess in modernist poetry, so that's exactly the kind of phrase that grabs my attention. In honor of poetry month, here's one of my favorite Edith Sitwell pieces, (yes, I'll admit, I like to try to recite along with her, in my best Edith Sitwell voice, while I drive). It's much more fun to hear her read it. (Scroll down to the track listings. The preview clip is the whole poem.)

Black Mrs. Behemoth

In a room of the palace
Black Mrs Behemoth
Gave way to wroth
And the wildest malice.
Cried Mrs Behemoth,
"Come, come,
Come, court lady,
Doomed like a moth,
Through palace rooms shady!"
The candle flame
Seemed a yellow pompion,
Sharp as a scorpion,
Nobody came...
Only a bugbear,
Air unkind,
That bud-furred papoose,
The young spring wind,
Blew out the candle.
Where is it gone?
To flat Coromandel
Rolling on!


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