MARGATE, 1940 by Sir John Betjeman

From out The Queen’s Highcliffe for weeks at a stretch
I watched how the mower evaded the vetch,
So that over the putting-course rashes were seen
Of pink and of yellow among the burnt green.
How restful to putt, when the strains of a band
Announced a the dansant was on at The Grand,
While over the privet, comminglingly clear,
I heard lesser Co-Optimists down by the pier.
How lightly municipal, meltingly tarr’d,
Were the walks through the lawns by the Queen’s Promenade
As soft over Cliftonville languished the light
Down Harold Road, Norfolk Road, into the night.

Oh! then what a pleasure to see the ground floor
With tables for two laid as tables for four,
And bottles of sauce and Kia-Ora and squash
Awaiting their owners who’d gone up to wash –
Who had gone up to wash the ozone from their skins
The sand from their legs and the rock from their chins,
To prepare for an evening of dancing and cards
And forget the sea-breeze on the dry promenades.

From third floor and fourth floor the children looked down
Upon ribbons of light in the salt-scented town;
And drowning the trams roared the sound of the sea
As it washed in the shingle the scraps of their tea.
Beside The Queen’s Highcliffe now rank grows the vetch,
Now dark is the terrace, a storm-battered stretch;
And I think, as the fairy-lit sights I recall,
It is those we are fighting for, foremost of all.


Betjeman 1



Filed under Poetry

4 responses to “MARGATE, 1940 by Sir John Betjeman

  1. madmuma

    a very accessible poet I always thought 🙂

  2. Carrie

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful words. I am really just getting into the beauty of poetry in my life. I love how the words can flow. Thank you also for you visit to my place at spaces. Hugs Carrie

  3. What a great poem. Did not pay close enough attention to 1940 in the title and then realised how seriously-minded the poem. Thank you.

    • penelopephoebe

      Hiya Happy. Sir John Betjeman is my second favourite poet. I love cadence of his poetry. Hope your week is starting well. Pen.

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