(Poem #444) Contours
Round - oblong - like jam - Terse as virulent hermaphrodites; Calling across the sodden twisted ends of Time. Edifices of importunity Sway like Parmesan before the half-tones Of Episcopalian Michaelmas; Bodies are so impossible to see in retrospect - And yet I know the well of truth Is gutted like a pratchful Unicorn. Sog, sog, sog - why is my mind ambitious? That's what it is.
I can hardly stop laughing long enough to type these words in... "In 1923, Noel Coward lampooned Edith Sitwell and her two brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, in some sketches which he called 'The Swiss Family Whittlebot'. This was in the wake of the first performance of Edith's avant-garde poems for recitation through loud-speaker with musical accompaniment, 'Facade'. She was furious, and nursed her grievance against Coward for many years. It was only aggravated by Coward's description of the eccentric behaviour of Mrs Hernia Whittlebot, 'who was busy preparing for publication her new books, "Gilded Sluts" and "Garbage". She breakfasts on onions and Vichy water'." -- 'Unauthorized Versions', a totally brilliant collection of poems and their parodies, edited by Kenneth Baker, published by Faber and Faber. 'Contours' is not a parody of any particular Sitwell poem, but rather of her style as a whole. This example should serve to show what I mean: 'Said King Pompey' Said King Pompey, the emperor's ape, Shuddering black in his temporal cape Of dust: 'The dust is everything - The heart to love, and the voice to sing, Indianapolis And the Acropolis, Also the hairy sky that we Take for a coverlet comfortably.' ... Said the Bishop Eating his ketchup - 'There still remains Eternity (Swelling the diocese) - That elephantiasis, The flunkeyed and trumpeting Sea!' -- Edith Sitwell The difference, of course, is that Sitwell's poem takes itself seriously; Coward's does not. And oh, the difference to me! thomas. PS. Lest anyone think otherwise, Sitwell's poems _do_ have conscious interpretations (or so I'm told - I would love to have 'Pompey' explained to me, and I doubt I'm alone). And she was possibly the person most responsible for promoting the poetry (alliteration watch!) of Dylan Thomas, so it's not all one-way traffic. I still like 'Contours' more than 'Pompey', though.