Monday, June 20, 2005

A touch of Betjeman as the evening comes

There is nothing like verse from Betjeman to lighten up your mind – listen to this:

Kirkby with Muckby-cum-Sparrowby-cum-Spinx
Is down a long lane in the county of Lincs,
And often on Wednesdays, well-harnessed and spruce,
I would drive into Wiss over Winderby Sluice.

A whacking great sunset bathed level and drain
From Kirkby with Muckby to Beckby-on-Bain,
And I saw, as I journeyed, my marketing done
Old Caistorby tower take the last of the sun.


Suicide on Junction Road Station after
Abstention from Evening Communion in North London

With the roar of the gas my heart gives a shout -
To Jehovah Tsidkenu the praise!
Bracket and bracket go blazon it out
In this Evangelical haze!

Jehovah Jireh! the arches ring,
The Mintons glisten, and grand
Are the surpliced boys as they sweetly sing
On the threshold of glory land.

Jehovah Nisi! from Tufnell Park,
Five minutes to Junction Road,
Through grey brick Gothic and London dark,
And my sins, a fearful load.

Six on the upside! six on the down side!
One gaslight in the Booking Hall
And a thousand sins on this lonely station -
What shall I do with them all?

Or a what about this - Group Life: Lechforth - such wicked, wicked satire:

Tell me Pippididdledum,
Tell me how the children are.
Working each for weal of all
After what you said.
Barry's on the common far
Pedalling the Kiddie Kar.
Ann has had a laxative
And Alured is dead.

They may say he is a minor poet, but one does wonder... When he was not sentimental he was amazing.

The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel

He sipped at a weak hock and seltzer
As he gazed at the London skies
Through the Nottingham lace of the curtains
Or was it his bees-winged eyes?

To the right and before him Pont Street
Did tower in her new built red,
As hard as the morning gaslight
That shone on his unmade bed,

I want some more hock in my seltzer,
And Robbie, please give me your hand -
Is this the end or beginning?
How can I understand?

So you've brought me the latest Yellow Book:
And Buchan has got in it now:
Approval of what is approved of
Is as false as a well-kept vow.

More hock, Robbie - where is the seltzer?
Dear boy, pull again at the bell!
They are all little better than cretins,
Though this is the Cadogan Hotel.

One astrakhan coat is at Willis's -
Another one's at the Savoy:
Do fetch my morocco portmanteau,
And bring them on later, dear boy.

A thump, and a murmur of voices -
( Oh why must they make such a din?)
As the door of the bedroom swung open

Mr. Woilde, we'ave come for tew take yew
Where felons and criminals dwell:
We must ask yew tew leave with us quoietly
For this is the Cadogan Hotel.

He rose, and he put down The Yellow Book.
He staggered - and, terrible-eyed,
He brushed past the palms on the staircase
And was helped to a hansom outside.

These amazing lines from his early poetry - light yes, but light does not mean unserious. This is not to say that he was serious, but there is high seriousness in great skill. And greatly skilled he was.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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