Tag Archives: Osbert Sitwell

Meet Dame Edith Sitwell

The gardener and I went to a lovely Halloween costume party. I wanted to go as Edgar Allen Poe with a raven on my shoulder. That would have been soooo cool. The gardener would have been my editor, which would have fit him just fine hahaha. But after looking at all the photos of Poe with that high tight collar I knew this hot-blooded person could not wear an outfit like that in Arizona.

I wanted another poet, but it needed to be somebody who lived to be as old as me, so Sylvia Plath was out. A friend suggested Edith Sitwell because she dressed eccentrically in turbans and caftans. She was a well-known British poet active in the 1910s to 1960s. She was an aristocrat and her two brothers were also poets. So I put together a costume as Dame Edith Sitwell, and the gardener dressed as Sir Osbert Sitwell. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Sitwell

Of course, the gardener won’t let me post his photo on here ;). But here is an image of the vintage purse I carried (that belonged to his aunt) and the calling cards I had made! Just so you know how color-coordinated I was, the pattern of my caftan has lots of yellow from the waist down.

On the back side of the calling card it says: I will be working on my American accent this evening. [I don’t do accents.]

Here is a Sitwell poem from 1919:

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.

     II. The Ape Watches “Aunt Sally”

The apples are an angel’s meat;

The shining dark leaves make clear sweet

The juice; green wooden fruits alway

Fall on these flowers as white as day—

(Clear angel-face on hairy stalk:

Soul grown from flesh, an ape’s young talk!)

And in this green and lovely ground

The Fair, world-like, turns round and round

And bumpkins throw their pence to shed

Aunt Sally’s wooden clear-striped head.—

I do not care if men should throw

Round sun and moon to make me go—

As bright as gold and silver pence . . .

They cannot drive their black shade hence!


Filed under Inspiration, Poetry, Writing