“In Bad Taste” by Osbert Sitwell

In Bad Taste

The platitudinous multitude advance,
They tear their hair and speak with bated breath,
And some are young—tho' prematurely aged,
And others old—tho' desperately young.
Sometimes they roar out biblical abuse,
At other times they wrap their ranting thoughts
In the fair-woven garment of hypocrisy,
Or roll their silly eyes,—or uplifted
Thank God they are not like to Publicans.
But most I love their favourite axiom
That age is but a virtue, youth a sin:—
" This line is gloomy and this view is false.
Life is a thing of joy and platitudes.
Oh ! to be simple now that Spring is here!
Play Oranges and Lemons, Nuts and May,
And sing and gambol through a joyous day.—
When we were young, we danced upon the hills
In tall top-hats and patent-leather shoes
To the wild music of a mandoline.
All decent youth should sing ' the Rosary'
In a sweet, simple, untrained tenor voice,
Or softly whistle ' Songs of Araby':—
Then would you grow to a malign old age,

[ . . . ]

Osbert Sitwell's poem "In Bad Taste" was published as the preface to the second printing of the first "cycle" (issue) of the Wheels poetry anthology. The first edition of the first cycle was published in December 1916 and the second edition was published in March 1917. To read "In Bad Taste" in full in its original publication context, follow the link below:

The Modernist Journals Project