This is a poem about Prayer.
To begin with, a beautifully drawn picture by Norman Rockwell.
People pray in so many different ways...
And here is the poet, in St. Pancras Station...
He is admiring the beautiful roof....
Betjeman was very enthusiastic about London's Victorian architecture....
I often wish I had met John Betjeman.
Such a dry sense of humour, so gentle his judgements, such a love of English oddity, of the ridiculous pride in class and Empire, so sharp an awareness of the smells and sounds of our beautiful countryside; through all his work the consciousness that time is passing, nothing is for ever...
Enjoy today, live fully, feel and touch and taste...
He had a special love of the seaside.
He enjoyed the atmosphere of old churches, loved the sound of church bells, and was always overshadowed by a fear of death; but I think he never forgot what it felt like to be a child.
This is a poem about a middle-class lady, wearing an impressive hat, sparing a few minutes of her day in Westminster Abbey.
Here she is.
Prayer means different things to different people.
Many people use it to ask for things.
As if God were Father Christmas...
Some do a lot of talking.
Certainly this lady sees prayer as an opportunity to give God her opinion.
Listening is not part of the conversation.
She is happy in her position in society.
She is happy in her hat.
She was always happy with the status quo, and does not approve of Progress.
John wrote this with a smile; he understood how she felt...
IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY
Let me take this other glove off
As the vox humana swells,
And the beauteous fields of Eden
Bask beneath the Abbey bells.
Here, where England's statesmen lie,
Listen to a lady's cry.
Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans.
Spare their women for Thy sake,
And if that is not too easy
We will pardon Thy Mistake.
But, gracious Lord, whate'er shall be,
Don't let anyone bomb me.
Keep our Empire undismembered
Guide our Forces by Thy Hand,
Gallant blacks from far Jamaica,
Honduras and Togoland,
Protect them, Lord, in all their fights,
And, even more, protect the whites.
Think of what our Nation stands for,
Books from Boots' and country lanes,
Free speech, free passes, class distinction,
Democracy and proper drains.
Lord, put beneath Thy special care
One-eighty-nine Cadogan Square.
Although, dear Lord, I am a sinner,
I have done no major crime,
Now I'll come to Evening Service
Whensoe'er I have the time..
So, Lord, reserve for me a crown,
And do not let my shares go down.
I will labour for Thy Kingdom,
Help our lads to win the war,
Send white feathers to the cowards
Join the Women's Army Corps,
Then wash the Steps around Thy Throne
In the Eternal Safety Zone.
Now I feel a little better,
What a treat to hear Thy Word,
Where the bones of leading statesmen
Have so often been interr'd.
And now, dear Lord, I cannot wait
Because I have a luncheon date.
Perhaps, when she left for her appointment, one could hear from above a little sigh of Heavenly Relief?