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Four in the Morning

Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell 1887 (Scarborough) – 1964 (Weedon Lois)



Cried the navy-blue ghost
Of Mr. Belaker
The allegro Negro cocktail-shaker,
"Why did the cock crow,
Why am I lost,
Down the endless road to Infinity toss'd?
The tropical leaves are whispering white
As water; I race the wind in my flight.
The white lace houses are carried away
By the tide; far out they float and sway.
White is the nursemaid on the parade.
Is she real, as she flirts with me unafraid?
I raced through the leaves as white as water...
Ghostly, flowed over the nursemaid, caught her,
Left her...edging the far-off sand
Is the foam of the sirens' Metropole and Grand;
And along the parade I am blown and lost,
Down the endless road to Infinity toss'd.
The guinea-fowl-plumaged houses sleep...
On one, I saw the lone grass weep,
Where only the whimpering greyhound wind
Chased me, raced me, for what it could find."
And there in the black and furry boughs
How slowly, coldly, old Time grows,
Where the pigeons smelling of gingerbread,
And the spectacled owls so deeply read,
And the sweet ring-doves of curded milk
Watch the Infanta's gown of silk
In the ghost-room tall where the governante
Gesticulates lente and walks andante.
'Madam, Princesses must be obedient;
For a medicine now becomes expedient--
Of five ingredients--a diapente,
Said the governante, fading lente...
In at the window then looked he,
The navy-blue ghost of Mr. Belaker,
The allegro Negro cocktail-shaker--
And his flattened face like the moon saw she--
Rhinoceros-black (a flowing sea!).

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:16 min read
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Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell

Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. She reacted badly to her eccentric, unloving parents and lived much of her life with her governess. She never married but became passionately attached to Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew, and her home was always open to London's poetic circle, to whom she was generous and helpful. Sitwell published poetry continuously from 1913, some of it abstract and set to music. With her dramatic style and exotic costumes, she was sometimes labelled a poseur, but her work was praised for its solid technique and painstaking craftsmanship. She was a recipient of the Benson Medal. more…

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