Monday, October 5, 2009

Poetry Wednesday - Sir John Betjeman

"Sir John Betjeman (28 August 1906 - 19 May 1984) was a British poet and writer on architecture. He was born in Highgate, London, his surname indicating his Dutch ancestry. He left Magdalen College, Oxford without a degree due to lack of work which resulted in his failing his divinity exams.
Later, Betjeman obtained employment as a journalist, before joining the civil service. It has recently been revealed that his wartime duties entailed providing secret intelligence reports. Betjeman never took himself too seriously. His poems are often humorous, and in later life he enjoyed a career as a broadcaster, his popularity being in no small measure due to his bumbling image.
He became Poet Laureate in 1972, succeeding Cecil Day Lewis. One of his first duties was to produce a poem in honour of the wedding of Princess Anne."

I thought this an amusing poem seeings as my daughter now lives in Slough (pronounced - Sl--ow!)

Slough
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 desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It’s not their fault that they are mad,
They’ve tasted Hell.

It’s not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It’s not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren’t look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

6 comments:

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

I know a few towns I could wish bombed. Very humorous. I do hope the town has improved.

Nice to have you back on our Poetic Journey

Catfish Tales said...

'And get that man with double chin
Who’ll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women’s tears....'

Brilliantly crafted word imagery! (What a rapscallion though. :))

bekkieann said...

Humorous, yet, piercingly critical at the same time. Clever.

bekkieann said...

Humorous yet piercingly critical at the same time. Very witty.

Nicholas V. said...

Grrrrr, I could add to that list of names of towns that should be wiped off the face of the earth. Especially those where officialdom and bureaucracy proliferate...
(We'll spare Slough, though, as that is where you daughter lives!)

Bee's Blog said...

I could have sworn I'd left a comment on here when you posted! Something about now knowing why I didn't live in Slough whilst complimenting the choice of port!