Sir John Betjeman, CBE was an English poet, writer and broadcaster who described himself in Who's Who as a "poet and hack".
He was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture. Starting his career as a journalist, he ended it as one of the most popular British Poets Laureate to date and a much-loved figure on British television.
Early Life and Education
Betjeman was born "John Betjemann"; this was changed to the less German "Betjeman" during the First World War. He grew up at Parliament Hill Mansions in the Lissenden Gardens private estate in Highgate in North ... more »
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John Betjeman Poems
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn't fit for humans now, There isn't grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, Death!
A Subaltern's Love Song
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!
Diary Of A Church Mouse
Here among long-discarded cassocks, Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks, Here where the vicar never looks I nibble through old service books.
Back From Australia
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
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 for the children's party into the night
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:
Meditation On The A30
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
A Bay In Anglesey
The sleepy sound of a tea-time tide Slaps at the rocks the sun has dried,
Felixstowe, Or The Last Of Her Order
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
A Mind's Journey To Diss
Dear Mary, Yes, it will be bliss To go with you by train to Diss, Your walking shoes upon your feet;
An Edwardian Sunday, Broomhill, Sheffiel...
High dormers are rising So sharp and surprising, And ponticum edges The driveways of gravel;
Devonshire Street W.1
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 faience adornment — Devonshire Street.
Death In Leamington
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
East Anglian Bathe
Oh when the early morning at the seaside Took us with hurrying steps from Horsey Mere To see the whistling bent-grass on the leeside And then the tumbled breaker-line appear,
Comments about John Betjeman
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!
Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.
Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.
And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:
And smash his ...