31 January, 2012

Beneath the flat and paper sky

The sun, a demon's eye,

Glowed through the air, that mask of glass;

All wand'ring sounds that pass

Seemed out of tune, as if the light

Were fiddle-strings pulled tight.

The market-square with spire and bell

Clanged out the hour in Hell;

The busy chatter of the heat

Shrilled like a parakeet;

And shuddering at the noonday light

The dust lay dead and white

As powder on a mummy's face,

Or fawned with simian grace

Round booths with many a hard bright toy

And wooden brittle joy:

The cap and bells of Time the Clown

That, jangling, whistled down

Young cherubs hidden in the guise

Of every bird that flies;

And star-bright masks for youth to wear,

Lest any dream that fare

-Bright pilgrim-past our ken, should see

Hints of Reality.

Upon the sharp-set grass, shrill-green,

Tall trees like rattles lean,

And jangle sharp and dissily;

But when night falls they sign

Till Pierrot moon steals slyly in,

His face more white than sin,

Black-masked, and with cool touch lays bare

Each cherry, plum, and pear.

Then underneath the veiled eyes

Of houses, darkness lies--

Tall houses; like a hopeless prayer

They cleave the sly dumb air.

Blind are those houses, paper-thin

Old shadows hid therein,

With sly and crazy movements creep

Like marionettes, and weep.

Tall windows show Infinity;

And, hard reality,

The candles weep and pry and dance

Like lives mocked at by Chance.

The rooms are vast as Sleep within;

When once I ventured in,

Chill Silence, like a surging sea,

Slowly enveloped me.

- Edith Sitwell