Saturday, 1 September 2012

Betjeman's Lost Poem

I was thrilled to read the recent news of the discovery of a pile of "love letters"  in the home of one of John Betjeman's "acquaintances". Not least because I have been fortunate enough to come into possession of the last of the so-called "lost poems" that the sainted JB wrote - and which was fastened to one of the letters with a carefully-crafted antique tortoiseshell paper clip. It sheds an intriguing light on the letters with which it was found.


In future days you'll think of me as just one of those duffers
Who longed for ancient stations, steam and rustic railway buffers
For tea in Epsom, cream in Fowey*, and ancient Cornish churches
Not permanently giving in to random sexual urges.

But as you'll see, my unseen life is full of frantic flirtings
Imagining Joan Hunter Dunn without her blouse and skirtings
And lusting for Myfanwy, whose husband works in glass
Not looking at the windows, but at Myfanwy's face**.

So fifty years from now you'll only think of me as tweedy
You'll get a shock to find my life could also be quite seedy
But if you find you're rather shocked, that I could be so lusty
Just think about St Enodoc, and my image returns to "fusty".

* Yes it is just wilfully annoying.
** We believe there may have been an emendation of the script at this point by a later redactor.

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