Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Looking forward

I am so looking forward to going home that rampant nostalgia is driving me at the moment and that most English of poets, the much honored, the late John Betjeman comes to mind. The poem below with decorations by John Piper from The Saturday Book of 1956 will cool down the warmest of nostalgic days.

Thus, for your delectation, ladies and gentlemen:

Lord Barton-Bendish

Oh Lord Barton-Bendish!
Your mausoleum is cold;
The dry brown grass is brittle
And frozen hard the mould,

And where its Grecian columns rise
So white amongst the dark 
Of Yew trees and of hollies in
That corner of the park,

The Norfolk oaks around it
Have boughs that seem to talk;
And there, Lord Barton-Bendish,
I would not like to walk.

And even in the summer,
On a bright East Anglian day,
When round your Doric portico
Your children's children play

There's a Something in the stillness
And our waiting eyes are drawn
From the butler and the footman
Putting tea out on the lawn

From the little silver spirit lamp
Which burns so blue and still 
To the half-seen mausoleum
In the oak trees on the hill.

But when, Lord Barton-Bendish,
November stars are bright,
And the King's Head Inn at Letheringsett
Is shutting for the night,

The villagers have told me
That they do not like to pass
Your curious mausoleum
Moon-shadowed on the grass

For fear of seeing walking
In the season of All Souls
That first Lord Barton-Bendish,
The Master of the Rolls.

1 comment:

  1. I wandered here from ArchitectDesign and loved your hopeful angst, and the poem of course. Hope your journey is safe and good and return to home, where it always is, in the heart and in the knowning. Be my eyes at Tate Britain and drink in the beauty and tell all. A little something about Artemisia Gentileschi would soothe!