Edith Sitwell

Two Kitchen Songs

The harsh bray and hollow
Of the pot and pan
Seems Midas defying
The great god Apollo!
The leaves’ great golden crowns
Hang on the trees;
The maids in their long gowns
Hunt through these.
Grand’am Garnd’am,
From the pan I am
Flying…country gentlemen
Took flying Psyche for a hen
And aimed at her; then turned a gun
On harmless chicken-me—for fun.
The beggars’ dogs howl all together,
Their tails turn to a ragged feather;
Pools, like mirrors hung in garrets,
Show each face as red as a parrot’s;
Whistling hair that raises ire
In cocks and hens in the kitchen fire!
Every flame shrieks cockle-doo-doo
(With their coxcombs flaring high too);
The witch’s rag-rug takes its flight
Beneath the willows’ watery light:
The wells of water seem a-plume—
The old witch sweeps them with her broom—
All are chasing chicken-me….
But Psyche—where, or where, is she?

Gray as a guinea-fowl is the rain
Squawking down from the boughs again.
            ‘Anne, Anne,
             Go fill the pail.’
Said the old witch who sat on the rail,
‘Though there is a hole in the bucket,
Anne, Anne,
It will fill my pocket;
The water-drops when they cross my doors
Will turn to guineas and gold moidores….’
The well-water hops across the floors;
Whimpering, ‘Anne,’ it cries, implores;
And the guinea-fowl-plumaged rain,
Squawking down from the boughs again,
Cried, ‘Anne, Anne, go fill the bucket,
There is a hole in the witch’s pocket—
And the water-drops like gold moidores,
Obedient girl, will surely be yours.
So, Anne, Anne,
Go fill the pail
Of the old witch who sits on the rail!’