Edith Sitwell


Summer afternoon in Hell!
Down the empty street it fell,
Pantaloon and Scaramouche —
Tongues like flames and shadows louche — 
Flickered down the street together
In the spangled weather.
Flames, bright singing birds that pass, 
Whistled wares as shrill as grass 
(Landscapes clear as glittering glass), 
Whistled all together:
Papagei, O Papagei,
Buy our greenest fruits, oh buy,
Melons misty from the bloom
Of mellow moons on some hot night, 
Melting in the August light;
Apples like an emerald shower; 
Nectarines that falling boom
On the grass in greenest gloom;
Peaches bright as parrot's feather 
Glistening from the moon's bower; 
Chequered like fritillaries,
Fat and red are strawberries. 
Parrot-voices shrill together —
Now they pelt each monkey-face 
(Pantaloon with simian grace)
From the soft gloom till they smother 
Both the plumed headdresses
With the green fruit-gems that glitter 
(Twinkling sharp sounds like a zither). 
Sharp each bird-tongue shrills and hisses, 
Parrot-voices shrieking bane;
Down comes every spangled shutter 
With a sudden noise like rain.