Bright Young Things, Part I

They did not intend to distinguish between the essence
Of wit and wallpaper trellis.
What they cared
Was how the appointments of the age appeared
Under the citron gaslight incandescence.

Virtue was vulgar, sin a floral passion
And death a hansom at the door, while they
Kept faith with a pomaded sense of history In their fashion.

Behind the domino, those fringed and fanned
Exclusive girls, prinked with the peacock’s eye
Noted, they believed, the trickle of a century
Like a thin umbrella in a black-gloved hand.

Yellow Book, Muriel Spark, c. 1951 (photograph, One More, by Mariczka, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine)