John Betjeman
Winter Seascape by John Betjeman

Winter Seascape by John Betjeman

The sea runs back against itself With scarcely time for breaking wave To cannonade a slatey shelf And thunder under in a cave. Before the next can fully burst The headwind, ...

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Westgate-On-Sea by John Betjeman

Westgate-On-Sea by John Betjeman

Hark, I hear the bells of Westgate, I will tell you what they sigh, Where those minarets and steeples Prick the open Thanet sky. Happy bells of eighteen-ninety, Bursting ...

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Verses Turned… by John Betjeman

Verses Turned… by John Betjeman

Across the wet November night The church is bright with candlelight And waiting Evensong. A single bell with plaintive strokes Pleads louder than the stirring oaks The ...

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Upper Lambourne by John Betjeman   

Upper Lambourne by John Betjeman  

  Up the ash tree climbs the ivy, Up the ivy climbs the sun, With a twenty-thousand pattering, Has a valley breeze begun, Feathery ash, neglected elder, Shift the ...

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Trebetherick by John Betjeman

Trebetherick by John Betjeman

We used to picnic where the thrift Grew deep and tufted to the edge; We saw the yellow foam flakes drift In trembling sponges on the ledge Below us, till the wind would lift ...

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The Planster’s Vision by John Betjeman

The Planster’s Vision by John Betjeman

Cut down that timber! Bells, too many and strong, Pouring their music through the branches bare, From moon-white church-towers down the windy air Have pealed the centuries out ...

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The Olympic Girl by John Betjeman

The Olympic Girl by John Betjeman

  The sort of girl I like to see Smiles down from her great height at me. She stands in strong, athletic pose And wrinkles her retroussé nose. Is it distaste that makes her ...

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The Lift Man by John Betjeman

The Lift Man by John Betjeman

In uniform behold me stand, The lovely lift at my command. I press the button: Pop, And down I go below the town; The walls rise up as I go down And in the basement stop. ...

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The Licorice Fields At Pontefract by John Betjeman

The Licorice Fields At Pontefract by John Betjeman

In the licorice fields at Pontefract My love and I did meet And many a burdened licorice bush Was blooming round our feet; Red hair she had and golden skin, Her sulky lips ...

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The Last Laugh by John Betjeman

The Last Laugh by John Betjeman

I made hay while the sun shone. My work sold. Now, if the harvest is over And the world cold, Give me the bonus of laughter As I lose hold.

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The Irish Unionist’s Farewell To Greta Hellastrom In 1922 by John Betjeman

The Irish Unionist’s Farewell To Greta Hellastrom In 1922 by John Betjeman

Golden haired and golden hearted I would ever have you be, As you were when last we parted Smiling slow and sad at me. Oh! the fighting down of passion! Oh! the ...

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The Hon. Sec. by John Betjeman

The Hon. Sec. by John Betjeman

The flag that hung half-mast today Seemed animate with being As if it knew for who it flew And will no more be seeing. He loved each corner of the links- The stream at the ...

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The Cottage Hospital by John Betjeman

The Cottage Hospital by John Betjeman

At the end of a long-walled garden in a red provincial town, A brick path led to a mulberry- scanty grass at its feet. I lay under blackening branches where the mulberry leaves ...

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Summoned By Bells (Excerpt) by John Betjeman

Summoned By Bells (Excerpt) by John Betjeman

Walking from school is a consummate art: Which route to follow to avoid the gangs, Which paths to find that lead, circuitous, To leafy squirrel haunts and plopping ponds, For ...

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South London Sketch by John Betjeman

South London Sketch by John Betjeman

From Bermondsey to Wandsworth So many churches are, Some with apsidal chancels, Some Perpendicular And schools by E.R. Robson In the style of Norman Shaw Where blue-serged ...

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Seaside Golf by John Betjeman

Seaside Golf by John Betjeman

How straight it flew, how long it flew, It clear'd the rutty track And soaring, disappeared from view Beyond the bunker's back - A glorious, sailing, bounding drive That made ...

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On A Portrait Of A Deaf Man by John Betjeman

On A Portrait Of A Deaf Man by John Betjeman

The kind old face, the egg-shaped head, The tie, discretely loud, The loosely fitting shooting clothes, A closely fitting shroud. He liked old city dining rooms, Potatoes ...

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Norfolk by John Betjeman

Norfolk by John Betjeman

How did the Devil come? When first attack? These Norfolk lanes recall lost innocence, The years fall off and find me walking back Dragging a stick along the wooden fence Down ...

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Myfanwy by John Betjeman

Myfanwy by John Betjeman

Kind o’er the kinderbank leans my Myfanwy, White o’er the playpen the sheen of her dress, Fresh from the bathroom and soft in the nursery Soap scented fingers I long to caress. ...

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Mortality by John Betjeman

Mortality by John Betjeman

The first-class brains of a senior civil servant Shiver and shatter and fall As the steering column of his comfortable Humber Batters in the bony wall. All those delicate ...

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Middlesex by John Betjeman

Middlesex by John Betjeman

Gaily into Ruislip Gardens Runs the red electric train, With a thousand Ta's and Pardon's Daintily alights Elaine; Hurries down the concrete station With a frown of ...

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Meditation On The A30 by John Betjeman

Meditation On The A30 by John Betjeman

A man on his own in a car Is revenging himself on his wife; He open the throttle and bubbles with dottle and puffs at his pitiful life She's losing her looks very fast, she ...

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Lord Cozens Hardy by John Betjeman

Lord Cozens Hardy by John Betjeman

Oh Lord Cozens Hardy Your mausoleum is cold, The dry brown grass is brittle And frozen hard the mould And where those Grecian columns rise So white among the dark Of yew ...

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Loneliness by John Betjeman

Loneliness by John Betjeman

The last year's leaves are on the beech: The twigs are black; the cold is dry; To deeps beyond the deepest reach The Easter bells enlarge the sky. O ordered metal ...

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Lenten Thoughts Of A High Anglican by John Betjeman

Lenten Thoughts Of A High Anglican by John Betjeman

Isn't she lovely, 'the Mistress'? With her wide-apart grey-green eyes, The droop of her lips and, when she smiles, Her glance of amused surprise? How nonchalantly she wears ...

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Ireland With Emily by John Betjeman

Ireland With Emily by John Betjeman

Bells are booming down the bohreens, White the mist along the grass, Now the Julias, Maeves and Maureens Move between the fields to Mass. Twisted trees of small green apple ...

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Inexpensive Progress by John Betjeman

Inexpensive Progress by John Betjeman

Encase your legs in nylons, Bestride your hills with pylons O age without a soul; Away with gentle willows And all the elmy billows That through your valleys roll. Let's ...

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Indoor Games Near Newbury by John Betjeman

Indoor Games Near Newbury by John Betjeman

In among the silver birches, Winding ways of tarmac wander And the signs to Bussock Bottom, Tussock Wood and Windy Break. Gabled lodges, tile-hung churches Catch the lights ...

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In Westminster Abbey by John Betjeman

In Westminster Abbey by John Betjeman

Let me take this other glove off As the vox humana swells, And the beauteous fields of Eden Bask beneath the Abbey bells. Here, where England's statesmen lie, Listen to a ...

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In A Bath Teashop by John Betjeman

In A Bath Teashop by John Betjeman

'Let us not speak, for the love we bear one another— Let us hold hands and look.' She such a very ordinary little woman; He such a thumping crook; But both, for a moment, ...

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I.M. Walter Ramsden Ob. March 26, 1947, Pembroke College, Oxford by John Betjeman

I.M. Walter Ramsden Ob. March 26, 1947, Pembroke College, Oxford by John Betjeman

Dr Ramsden cannot read The Times obituary to-day He’s dead. Let monographs on silk worms by other people be Thrown away Unread For he who best could understand and criticize ...

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How To Get On In Society by John Betjeman

How To Get On In Society by John Betjeman

Phone for the fish knives, Norman As cook is a little unnerved; You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes And I must have things daintily served. Are the requisites all in ...

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Harrow-On-The-Hill by John Betjeman

Harrow-On-The-Hill by John Betjeman

When melancholy Autumn comes to Wembley And electric trains are lighted after tea The poplars near the stadium are trembly With their tap and tap and whispering to me, Like ...

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Guilt by John Betjeman

Guilt by John Betjeman

The clock is frozen in the tower, The thickening fog with sooty smell Has blanketed the motor power Which turns the London streets to hell; And footsteps with their lonely ...

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Five O’Clock Shadow by John Betjeman

Five O’Clock Shadow by John Betjeman

This is the time of day when we in the Men's ward Think 'one more surge of the pain and I give up the fight.' When he who struggles for breath can struggle less strongly: This ...

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Felixstowe, Or The Last Of Her Order by John Betjeman

Felixstowe, Or The Last Of Her Order by John Betjeman

With one consuming roar along the shingle The long wave claws and rakes the pebbles down To where its backwash and the next wave mingle, A mounting arch of water weedy-brown ...

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False Security by John Betjeman

False Security by John Betjeman

I remember the dread with which I at a quarter past four Let go with a bang behind me our house front door And, clutching a present for my dear little hostess tight, Sailed out ...

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Executive by John Betjeman

Executive by John Betjeman

I am a young executive. No cuffs than mine are cleaner; I have a Slimline brief-case and I use the firm's Cortina. In every roadside hostelry from here to Burgess Hill The ...

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Dilton Marsh Halt by John Betjeman

Dilton Marsh Halt by John Betjeman

Was it worth keeping the Halt open, We thought as we looked at the sky Red through the spread of the cedar-tree, With the evening train gone by? Yes, we said, for in summer ...

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Diary Of A Church Mouse by John Betjeman

Diary Of A Church Mouse by John Betjeman

Here among long-discarded cassocks, Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks, Here where the vicar never looks I nibble through old service books. Lean and alone I spend my ...

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Devonshire Street W.1 by John Betjeman

Devonshire Street W.1 by John Betjeman

The heavy mahogany door with its wrought-iron screen Shuts. And the sound is rich, sympathetic, discreet. The sun still shines on this eighteenth-century scene With Edwardian ...

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Death In Leamington by John Betjeman

Death In Leamington by John Betjeman

She died in the upstairs bedroom By the light of the ev'ning star That shone through the plate glass window From over Leamington Spa Beside her the lonely crochet Lay ...

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Dawlish by John Betjeman

Dawlish by John Betjeman

Bird-watching colonels on the old sea wall, Down here at Dawlish where the slow trains crawl: Low tide lifting, on a shingle shore, Long-sunk islands from the sea once more: ...

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Cornish Cliffs by John Betjeman

Cornish Cliffs by John Betjeman

Those moments, tasted once and never done, Of long surf breaking in the mid-day sun. A far-off blow-hole booming like a gun- The seagulls plane and circle out of sight Below ...

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Christmas by John Betjeman

Christmas by John Betjeman

The bells of waiting Advent ring, The Tortoise stove is lit again And lamp-oil light across the night Has caught the streaks of winter rain In many a stained-glass window ...

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Business Girls by John Betjeman

Business Girls by John Betjeman

From the geyser ventilators Autumn winds are blowing down On a thousand business women Having baths in Camden Town Waste pipes chuckle into runnels, Steam's escaping here ...

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Back From Australia by John Betjeman

Back From Australia by John Betjeman

Cocooned in Time, at this inhuman height, The packaged food tastes neutrally of clay, We never seem to catch the running day But travel on in everlasting night With all the ...

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An Edwardian Sunday, Broomhill, Sheffield by John Betjeman

An Edwardian Sunday, Broomhill, Sheffield by John Betjeman

High dormers are rising So sharp and surprising, And ponticum edges The driveways of gravel; Stone houses from ledges Look down on ravines. The vision can travel From gable ...

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A Subaltern’s Love Song by John Betjeman

A Subaltern’s Love Song by John Betjeman

Miss J.Hunter Dunn, Miss J.Hunter Dunn, Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun, What strenuous singles we played after tea, We in the tournament - you against me! ...

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A Shropshire Lad by John Betjeman

A Shropshire Lad by John Betjeman

The gas was on in the Institute, The flare was up in the gym, A man was running a mineral line, A lass was singing a hymn, When Captain Webb the Dawley man, Captain Webb from ...

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