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Clowns Houses

 BENEATH the flat and paper sky 
The sun, a demon's eye, 
Glowed through the air, that mask of glass; 
All wand'ring sounds that pass

Seemed out of tune, as if the light 
Were fiddle-strings pulled tight.
The market-square with spire and bell Clanged out the hour in Hell; The busy chatter of the heat Shrilled like a parakeet; And shuddering at the noonday light The dust lay dead and white As powder on a mummy's face, Or fawned with simian grace Round booths with many a hard bright toy And wooden brittle joy: The cap and bells of Time the Clown That, jangling, whistled down Young cherubs hidden in the guise Of every bird that flies; And star-bright masks for youth to wear, Lest any dream that fare --Bright pilgrim--past our ken, should see Hints of Reality.
Upon the sharp-set grass, shrill-green, Tall trees like rattles lean, And jangle sharp and dissily; But when night falls they sign Till Pierrot moon steals slyly in, His face more white than sin, Black-masked, and with cool touch lays bare Each cherry, plum, and pear.
Then underneath the veiled eyes Of houses, darkness lies-- Tall houses; like a hopeless prayer They cleave the sly dumb air.
Blind are those houses, paper-thin Old shadows hid therein, With sly and crazy movements creep Like marionettes, and weep.
Tall windows show Infinity; And, hard reality, The candles weep and pry and dance Like lives mocked at by Chance.
The rooms are vast as Sleep within; When once I ventured in, Chill Silence, like a surging sea, Slowly enveloped me.

by Dame Edith Sitwell
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