Edith Sitwell

The Avenue

In the huge and glassy room, 
Pantaloon, with his tail feather 
Spangled like the weather, 
Panached, too, with many a plume, 
Watched the monkey Fanfreluche, 
Shivering in his gilded ruche,
Fawn upon the piano keys—
Flatter till they answer back, T
hrough the scale of centuries, 
Difference between white and black. 
Winds like hurricanes of light 
Change the blackest vacuums
To a light-barred avenue— 
Semitones of might and right; 
Then, from matter, life comes. 
Down that lengthy avenue,
Leading us we know not where, 
Sudden views creep through the air; 
Oh, the keys we stumble through! 
Jungles splashed with violent light, 
Promenades all hard and bright, 
Long tails like the swish of seas, 
Avenue of piano keys.
Meaning comes to bind the whole, 
Fingers separate from thumbs, 
Soon the shapeless tune comes: 
Bestial efforts at man's soul.
What though notes are false and shrill— 
Black streets tumbling down a hill?
I am you, and you are me—
Octaves fall as emptily.