Thank God for Sitwells

WHAT is that nasal sound of bees
drawing these weird and wonderful people
up and up interminably
past ornamental waters,
past terraces with their statues,
till from the last stair is seen
still higher, on a trestle,
the Sitwells having tea.
And who dares bring the Magi gifts,
who match their paraphernalia?
Can any wizard equal three?
Watch Osbert, now, take two old ladies
and, setting them down beside the sea,
make their grief, too, immortal.
While-Sacheverell — he
will pile such excess on excess of style
it all becomes as simple as a tree.
Oh, hurry, hurry, salaam and curtsey.
From lily cups, before they sup,
the Sitwells are dispensing brandy
with Edith at the kettledrums.
How green she looks tonight. The
nets and nests and parasols,
the fruits and fires and waterfalls,
the feathers that she juggles
no doubt have worn her out.
Nevertheless she plays:
sybil and sister, Edith the indefatigable,
and her music is her sense.
Then gather against the coining dark
though it be upon a trestle.
See, that dean of fantasy is here—
Jules Verne, he has a new balloon,
ami Baudelaire brought an octoroon,
and Flaubert left Salammbô, his big baboon,
below, on guard. The snows of yesteryear
have even, in a way, preserved Mr. Wilde.
(Who would have thought
those Goncourt brothers so fecund?)
Why, there’s little Amy Lowell!
(I haven’t seen her for a loon’s age.)
No, Child, you mustn’t touch things.
Bid suddenly a hell rings, dwarf butlers
parting the portieres of stars with:
“ Poetry is served. Mademoiselles, Messieurs —”
and, for all my flippancy,
no one goes hungry.