At the Fair

By Edith Sitwell 1887–1964 Edith Sitwell
     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!

from Coterie, 1919

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Poet Edith Sitwell 1887–1964

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Couplet, Rhymed Stanza

 Edith  Sitwell

Biography

In the introduction to The Canticle of the Rose British poet Dame Edith Sitwell wrote: "At the time I began to write, a change in the direction, imagery and rhythms in poetry had become necessary, owing to the rhythmical flaccidity, the verbal deadness, the dead and expected patterns, of some of the poetry immediately preceding us." Her early work was often experimental, creating melody, using striking conceits, new rhythms, and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Couplet, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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