Wysts and Mellow Flutefulness

(To Randolph Churchill, but not about him)

Broad of Church and broad of mind,
Broad before and broad behind,
A keen ecclesiologist,
A rather dirty Wykehamist.
’Tis not for us to wonder why
He wears that curious knitted tie;
We should not cast reflections on
The very slightest kind of don.
We should not giggle as we like
At his appearance on his bike;
It’s something to become a bore,
And more than that, at twenty-four.
It’s something too to know your wants
And go full pelt for Norman fonts.
Just now the chestnut trees are dark
And full with shadow in the park,
And “Six o’clock!” St. Mary calls
Above the mellow college walls.
The evening stretches arms to twist
And captivate her Wykehamist.
But not for him these autumn days,
He shuts them out with heavy baize;
He gives his Ovaltine a stir
And nibbles at a petit beurre,
And, satisfying fleshy wants,
He settles down to Norman fonts.

John Betjeman (1906-84)

The Four Treasons

Each year the patient hand of time
Plucks bare the oak, the ash, the lime,
And sharp against the Autumn sky
The subtle branches soothe the eye.

When Winter’s spell is fast on earth
The trees await the sun’s rebirth,
And pearled in frost, they stand and seem
Designed for beauty in a dream.

Then Spring revokes the spell and wills
The early leaves, the silver rills:
And symbol’d songs, more sweet than words,
Fill air with urgence of the birds.

Last, Summer’s lion roars his heat:
And pollen drifts and leaves compete
To drink the golden tide of light
Ere fall the sable drought of night.

In Memoriam A.E.H.