Monday, July 20, 2009

"There is nothing like a barmaid," said the Dame















PORTRAIT OF A BARMAID

-by Dame Edith Sitwell

Metallic waves of people jar
Through crackling green toward the bar

Where on the tables chattering-white
The sharp drinks quarrel with the light.

Those coloured muslin blinds the smiles,
Shroud wooden faces in their wiles--

Sometimes they splash like water (you
Yourself reflected in their hue).

The conversation loud and bright
Seems spinal bars of shunting light

In firework-spurting greenery.
O complicate machinery

For building Babel, iron crane
Beneath your hair, that blue-ribbed mane

In noise and murder like the sea
Without its mutability!

Outside the bar where jangling heat
Seems out of tune and off the beat--

A concertina's glycerine
Exudes, and mirrors in the green

Your soul: pure glucose edged with hints
Of tentative and half-soiled tints.



(from Twentieth Century Harlequinade and other Poems, with Osbert Sitwell)


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14 comments:

bookmanie said...

Very, very good poem . Bookmanie.

Beth Niquette said...

Lovely lovely poetry!

I do get the paper now and again--I'm sorry to hear about your columnist friend.

We once loved and knew Mr. Van Eisenhut, former editor and reporter for the Statesman. When the old guard goes--it is always a heartache.

They don't make 'em like they used to. ((hugs))

Looking to the Stars said...

Beautiful poem.
Sorry about Jill, the world will miss her gift.

Buddha said...

Jeez! I can't believe I am so old that I remember when bars where actually social places where people would actually get together and talk about "what would Jesus drive" and stuff, over a pint of beer...
Much better than the internet I might add, especially with a barmaid like that :)

Lydia said...

@bookmanie- I sure liked it lots, too. Once I began reading it I realized that Dame Sitwell's poetry is a real treat.

@Beth- I didn't know Jill personally. Actually, I first became aware of her blog SalemDailyPhoto from comments she left at ParisDailyPhoto. She captured Oregon's capitol city just beautifully, I think.
The name Van Eisenhut does ring a bell, but I just can't place what time period he was at the Statesman.

@Buddha- There is this place in Salem that was like that for me in the late 70's and early 80's. Boon's Treasury was my second home (not such a good idea for a budding alcoholic such as I was back then). I look back on the hours spent there with nothing but absolute joy, friendship, and pleasure. In their new website I see they now have wireless internet, but I doubt the atmosphere has changed much. This makes me want to go in for lunch one day, as I haven't been inside Boon's for a long time (they've gone smokeless since I was there last so in that way the atmosphere has changed for the better).

Maggie May said...

this was a lovely journey

JonathanAquino said...

"The conversation loud and bright/ Seems spinal bars of shunting light" Don't you love what you see in your mind? What do you think Dame Sitwell had in common with Steven Spielberg? In a larger sense, what do poets have in common with filmmakers? Simple -- The power of imagery. You may or may not know (or care)but my latest post in a poem, Hex Files -- which I hope you and your readers will be able to find the time for. Thank you and God bless!

bookmanie said...

"Not the same generation, I'm just like your..." HI LYDIA, perspicace you are, I'm on his mind (without contention), is just mine and certainly yours too. I almost feel as though you know. Bookmanie.

Erin Davis said...

I actually hadn't read this before. Thank you! I love it!

Melinda said...

I loved this poem, Lydia--and I appreciate your sharing it with us. When reading it (along with the great picture), it reminded me of my very favorite role I played--Pirate Jenny, in the Threepenny Opera. She was a barmaid and the greatest alter ego of my acting career.

Melinda

Lydia said...

@Maggie- So glad you feel that way.

@Jonathan- Interesting point! You have intrigued me about your poem and I'll come over to read it.

@Erin- Was new to me, too. A good one!

@Melinda, AKA Pirate Jenny- That is wonderful to hear you consider that role in the manner you do. I wish you had a tape....if by chance you do please consider sharing it at your blog, or on YouTube. I'd love to see that so much!

Lydia said...

@Bookmanie- Sorry to miss you in the replies above! I think I may know how you feel. :)

M Riyadh Sharif said...

Lovely poem. It does reflect the real life of old barmaids.

Lydia said...

@Riyadh- She really did seem to capture a time and profession...

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