Monday, 17 November 2008

Sacheverell's acrobatic parrot

The late Sacheverell Sitwell, 6th Baronet, was the brother of Osbert and Dame Edith. He didn't publish much poetry during his lifetime; and that is a great pity for it would appear that he had more than a modicum of bardic talent.
This fugato explores the fugacious world of bathchair admirals and senile dowagers; ancient characters trapped in stately English residences. The poem's swerving vocabulary and disequilibrium is quite magnificent. Peerless.

The Parrot

The parrot's voice snaps out -
No good to contradict -
What he says he'll say again:
Dry facts, like biscuits,-

His voice and vivid colours
Of his breast and wings
Are immemoriably old;
Old dowagers dressed in crimpe`d satin
Boxed in their rooms
Like specimens beneath a glass
Inviolate - and never changing,
Their memory of emotions dead;
The ardour of their summers
Sprayed like camphor
On their silken parasols
Entissued in a cupboard.

Reflective, but with never a new thought
The parrot sways upon his ivory perch -
Then gravely turns a somersault
Through rings nailed in the roof -
Much as the sun performs his antics
As he climbs the aerial bridge
We only see
Through crystal prisms in a falling rain.

Sacheverell Sitwell


  1. I have never read any of his poetry but I love this - you get such a mixed yet vivid image of that parrot and I really love the last four lines.
    Thanks for visiting my blog - I am building up quite a picture of you with your cycling to Pendragon and your farm holidays! Call again. If I post any poetry please feel free to criticise it - I really would value your opinion (good or bad!)

  2. Yes, it is lovely isn't it? I like the way he comes back to the parrot and has it do a 'somersault' at the end there.

  3. no never read either but did enjoy this he certainly captures that environment


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