Friday, June 21, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

Interlude
By Dame Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964)

Mid 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. 


The aristocratic English eccentric, Dame Edith Sitwell, was a controversial poet. The link on her name, above, leads you to a discussion of widely differing opinions of her work. It has been dismissed as nonsense and lauded as genius. I don't share either of those extreme opinions, but I do love her playfulness, her delight in unusual rhymes, words, and arrangements of words. I love that her poems are so highly visual in their imagery, and also so very musical. In fact, during her lifetime she collaborated with musicians and performed her work to musical accompaniment.  I like  this poem, Interlude, for all those reasons, and because, as a love poem, it manages to be both subtle and sensual, delicate and lush.

A detailed biography and a selection of her poems can be found at PoemHunter, and a different selection of poems, available for reading online or downloading as a whole book, here.

She was capable of very serious and powerful poems too, the most famous probably being Still Falls the Rain, applying Christian imagery to the London Blitz of World War II. The link takes you to the text of this poem plus a recording of Dame Edith reading it in strong, deliberate tones.

Though our focus here is on poetry, it is worth mentioning that she also wrote some books of prose. She said she did so only for money; nevertheless, she wrote them very well too. I fell in love with her study of the young Queen Elizabeth I, Fanfare for Elizabeth, when I was a young girl myself, and have never fallen out of love with it.



Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

5 comments:

  1. I cant imagine her work being dismissed. Wow. I so enjoyed this poem, Rosemary, with the darting birds, her feet "feathered like a bird", and the branches she brought. Just lovely.

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  2. Fun. I have heard her name, but never indulged. Thank you.

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  3. I like this poem, Interlude, for all those reasons, and because, as a love poem, it manages to be both subtle and sensual, delicate and lush.

    I love your take, Rosemary and thank you for introducing Dame Edith. Almost all my life, I wrote poetry without reading great works and as such, missed out on many poets. it is only now that I begin to read collected works and this introduction is timely!

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    1. Delighted to be of service. What treats you have in store, exploring the greats now!

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  4. What a truly interesting poem and poet you have presented here, Rosemary. I DO like very much the imagery in the poem.

    My favorite lines are:

    My feet are feathered like a bird
    Among the shadows scarcely heard;

    I can see this SO well! Also enjoyed the last stanza and the mention of bird blood in one's veins! She really DOES have a unique and interesting style.

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