Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell
Portrait Of A Barmaid
Metallic waves of people jar
Through crackling green toward the bar
Where on the tables chattering-white
The sharp drinks quarrel with the light.
Those coloured muslin blinds the smiles,
Shroud wooden faces in their wiles —
Sometimes they splash like water (you
Yourself reflected in their hue).
The conversation loud and bright
Seems spinal bars of shunting light
In firework-spurting greenery.
O complicate machinery
For building Babel, iron crane
Beneath your hair, that blue-ribbed mane
In noise and murder like the sea
Without its mutability!
Outside the bar where jangling heat
Seems out of tune and off the beat —
A concertina's glycerine
Exudes, and mirrors in the green
Your soul: pure glucose edged with hints
Of tentative and half-soiled tints.
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