Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DRUM: THE NARRATIVE OF THE DEMON OF TEDWORTH, by EDITH SITWELL



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THE DRUM: THE NARRATIVE OF THE DEMON OF TEDWORTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In his tall senatorial
Last Line: Where the drum rolls up the stair, nor tarries.
Subject(s): Drums; Musical Instruments; Winter; Witchcraft & Witches


(The Narrative of the Demon Tedworth)

In his tall senatorial,
Black and manorial,
House where decoy-duck
Dust doth clack --
Clatter and quack
To a shadow black, --
Said the musty Justice Mompesson,
'What is that dark stark beating drum
That we hear rolling like the sea?'
'It is a beggar with a pass
Signed by you.' 'I signed not one.'
They took the ragged drum that we
Once heard rolling like the sea;
In the house of the Justice it must lie
And usher in Eternity.
. . . .
Is it black night?
Black as Hecate howls a star
Wolfishly, and whined
The wind from very far.

In the pomp of the Mompesson house is one
Candle that lolls like the midnight sun,
Or the coral combe of a cock; . . . it rocks . . .
Only the goatish snow's locks
Watch the candles lit by fright
One by one through the black night.

Through the kitchen there runs a hare --
Whinnying, whines like grass, the air;
It passes; now is standing there
A lovely lady . . . see her eyes --
Black angels in a heavenly place,
Her shady locks and her dangerous grace.

'I thought I saw the wicked old witch in
The richest gallipot in the kitchen!'
A lolloping galloping candle confesses.
'Outside in the passage are wildernesses
Of darkness rustling like witches' dresses.'

Out go the candles one by one
Hearing the rolling of a drum!

What is the march we hear groan
As the hoofed sound of a drum marched on
With a pang like darkness, with a clang
Blacker than an orang-outang?
'Heliogabalus is alone, --
Only his bones to play upon!'

The mocking money in the pockets
Then turned black . . . now caws
The fire . . . outside, one scratched the door
As with iron claws, --

Scratching under the children's bed
And up the trembling stairs . . . 'Long dead'
Moaned the water black as crape.
Over the snow the wintry moon
Limp as henbane, or herb paris,
Spotted the bare trees; and soon
Whinnying, neighed the maned blue wind
Turning the burning milk to snow,
Whining it shied down the corridor --
Over the floor I heard it go
Where the drum rolls up the stair, nor tarries.




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