Edith Sitwell--British

 

       

Edith Sitwell
(1887-1964)

 

Dame Edith Sitwell, born into an aristocratic and eccentric family in1887, was in the forefront of the literary world for most of her adult life.  A poet, critic and writer, Sitwell’s first poetry appeared in 1913, and between1916-21 she edited Wheels, an annual poetry anthology along with her two brothers.  Sitwell was very interested in the marriage and interplay between poetry and music.  A subject she explored successful in Gold Coast Customs and later in Façade in 1921.  Her only novel, I Live under a Black Sun, was published in 1937.  She moved to France in 1932, but returned to England after the death of her mother in 1937.  During the war years she wrote with “emotional depth” about what was occurring all around her.  Her poetry during this time was received with appreciation.  She died in 1964.


Still Falls the Rain

Still falls the Rain—

Dark as the world of man, black as our loss—
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross.

Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter's Field, and the sound of the impious feet

On the Tomb:
                  Still falls the Rain

In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain
Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain.

Still falls the Rain
At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.
Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us—
On Dives and on Lazarus:
Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.

Still falls the Rain—
Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man's wounded Side:
He bears in His Heart all wounds,—-those of the light that died,
The last faint spark
In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark,
The wounds of the baited bear—-
The blind and weeping bear whom the keepers beat
On his helpless flesh… the tears of the hunted hare.

Still falls the Rain—
Then— O I’ll leap up to my God: who pulls me down—
See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament:
It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree

Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart
That holds the fires of the world,—dark-smirched with pain
As Caesar's laurel crown.

Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain—
"Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee."


 

 

Dirge For The New Sunrise

(Fifteen minutes past eight o'clock, on the morning of Monday the 6th of August, 1945)

Bound to my heart as Ixion to the wheel,
Nailed to my heart as the Thief upon the Cross
I hang between our Christ and the gap where the world was lost

And watch the phantom Sun in Famine Street
--The ghost of the heart of Man . . . red Cain,
And the more murderous brain
Of Man, still redder Nero that conceived the death
Of his mother Earth, and tore
Her womb, to know the place where he was conceived.

But no eyes grieved—
For none were left for tears:
They were blinded as the years

Since Christ was born. Mother or Murderer, you have given
or taken life—
Now all is one!

There was a morning when the holy Light
Was young . . . The beautiful First Creature came
To our water-springs, and thought us without blame.

Our hearts seemed safe in our breasts and sang to the Light--
The marrow in the bone
We dreamed was safe . . . the blood in the veins, the sap in the
tree
Were springs of the Deity.

But I saw the little Ant-men as they ran
Carrying the world's weight of the world's filth
And the filth in the heart of Man --
Compressed till those lusts and greeds had a greater heat than
that of the Sun.

And the ray from that heat came soundless, shook the sky
As if in search for food, and squeezed the stems
Of all that grows on the earth till they were dry.
The eyes that saw, the lips that kissed, are gone
--Or black as thunder lie and grin at the murdered Sun.

The living blind and seeing dead together lie
As if in love . . . There was no more hating then—
And no more love: Gone is the heart of Man.