Edith Sitwell quotes

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Edith Sitwell

Birthdate: 7. September 1887
Date of death: 9. December 1964
Other names: Edith Louisa Sitwell

Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell, was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. She reacted badly to her eccentric, unloving parents and lived much of her life with her governess. She never married but became passionately attached to Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew, and her home was always open to London's poetic circle, to whom she was generous and helpful.

Sitwell published poetry continuously from 1913, some of it abstract and set to music. With her dramatic style and exotic costumes, she was sometimes labelled a poseur, but her work was praised for its solid technique and painstaking craftsmanship. She was a recipient of the Benson Medal.

Quotes Edith Sitwell

„Let us speak of our madness. We are always being called mad.“

—  Edith Sitwell

Yea and Nay : A series of lectures and counter-lectures given at the London school of economics in aid of the hospitals of London (1923) edited by C David Stelling, Section IV, Poetry and Modern Poetry
Context: Let us speak of our madness. We are always being called mad. If we are mad — we and our brothers in America who are walking hand in hand with us in the vanguard of progress — at least we are mad in company with most of our great predecessors and all the most intelligent foreigners. Beethoven, Schumann, and Wagner, Shelley, Blake, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth were all mad in turn. We shall be proud to join them in the Asylum to which they are now consigned.

„Within your magic web of hair, lies furled
The fire and splendour of the ancient world;“

—  Edith Sitwell

"The Web of Eros"
The Wooden Pegasus (1920)
Context: Within your magic web of hair, lies furled
The fire and splendour of the ancient world;
The dire gold of the comet's wind-blown hair;
The songs that turned to gold the evening air
When all the stars of heaven sang for joy.

„Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain —
"Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee."“

—  Edith Sitwell

Still Falls the Rain (1940)
Context: See, see where Christ's blood streames in the firmament:
It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart
That holds the fires of the world, — dark-smirched with pain
As Caesar's laurel crown. Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain —
"Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee."

„The world's floors are quaking, crumbling and breaking.“

—  Edith Sitwell

"The Last Gallop"
Façades (1922)
Context: White as a winding sheet,
Masks blowing down the street:
Moscow, Paris London, Vienna — all are undone.
The drums of death are mumbling, rumbling, and tumbling,
Mumbling, rumbling, and tumbling,
The world's floors are quaking, crumbling and breaking.

„The rooms are vast as Sleep within;
When once I ventured in,
Chill Silence, like a surging sea,
Slowly enveloped me.“

—  Edith Sitwell

"Clowns' Houses"
Clowns' Houses (1918)
Context: 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.

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„When we think of cruelty, we must try to remember the stupidity, the envy, the frustration from which it has arisen.“

—  Edith Sitwell

Source: Taken Care Of (1965), p. 221
Context: There are people, also, who cannot believe that beauty and gaiety are a part of goodness.
When we think of cruelty, we must try to remember the stupidity, the envy, the frustration from which it has arisen.

„The cap and bells of Time the Clown
That, jangling, whistled down
Young cherubs hidden in the guise
Of every bird that flies;“

—  Edith Sitwell

"Clowns' Houses"
Clowns' Houses (1918)
Context: p>The busy chatter of the heat
Shrilled like a parakeet;
And shuddering at the noonday light
The dust lay dead and whiteAs 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.</p

„I am resigned to the fact that people who don't know me loathe me.“

—  Edith Sitwell

The Last Years of a Rebel (1967)
Context: I am resigned to the fact that people who don't know me loathe me. Perhaps it is because I am a woman writing poetry. It must be annoying to a man who wants to write to see this horrid old lady who can.

„Our hearts seemed safe in our breasts and sang to the
Light —“

—  Edith Sitwell

"Three Poems of the Atomic Bomb: Dirge for the New Sunrise"
The Canticle of the Rose (1949)
Context: Our hearts seemed safe in our breasts and sang to the
Light —
The marrow in the bone
We dreamed was safe... the blood in the veins, the
sap in the tree
Were springs of Deity.

„And star-bright masks for youth to wear,
Lest any dream that fare
— Bright pilgrim — past our ken, should see
Hints of Reality.“

—  Edith Sitwell

"Clowns' Houses"
Clowns' Houses (1918)
Context: p>The busy chatter of the heat
Shrilled like a parakeet;
And shuddering at the noonday light
The dust lay dead and whiteAs 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.</p

„I wish the government would put a tax on pianos for the incompetent.“

—  Edith Sitwell

As quoted in An Uncommon Scold (1989) by Abby Adams, p. 176

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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