Winter Seascape poem – John Betjeman poems

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, blowing harder still, Smooths it to what it was at first – A slowly rolling water-hill. Against the breeze the breakers […]

Winter Landscape poem – John Betjeman poems

The three men coming down the winter hill In brown, with tall poles and a pack of hounds At heel, through the arrangement of the trees, Past the five figures at the burning straw, Returning cold and silent to their town, Returning to the drifted snow, the rink Lively with children, to the older […]

Westgate-On-Sea poem – John Betjeman poems

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 from your freestone tower! Recalling laurel, shrubs and privet, Red geraniums in flower. Feet that scamper on the asphalt Through the Borough Council […]

Verses Turned… poem – John Betjeman poems

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 leafless lanes along. It calls the hoirboys from their tea And villagers, the two or three, Damp down the kitchen fire, Let out the cat, and […]

Upper Lambourne poem – John Betjeman poems

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 shade and make it run – Shift the shade toward the nettles, And the nettles set it free, To streak the stained Carrara headstone, Where, […]

Trebetherick poem – John Betjeman poems

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 Them up the cliff and o’er the hedge. Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea, Sun on our bathing […]

The Plantster’s Vision poem – John Betjeman poems

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 with Evensong. Remove those cottages, a huddled throng! Too many babies have been born in there, Too many coffins, bumping down the stair, Carried […]

The Olympic Girl poem – John Betjeman poems

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 retrouss? nose. Is it distaste that makes her frown, So furious and freckled, down On an unhealthy worm like me? Or am I what she likes to see? I […]

The Licorice Fields at Pontefract poem – John Betjeman poems

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 were shaped for sin, Her sturdy legs were flannel-slack’d The strongest legs in Pontefract. The light and dangling licorice flowers […]

The Last Laugh poem – John Betjeman poems

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.   ***   More poems by John Betjeman: