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Indoor Games near Newbury -- John Betjeman

Guest poem sent in by Frank O'Shea
(Poem #1098) Indoor Games near Newbury
 In among the silver birches,
 Winding ways of tarmac wander
 And the signs to Bussock Bottom,
 Tussock Wood and Windy Break.
 Gabled lodges, tile-hung churches
 Catch the lights of our Lagonda
 As we drive to Wendy’s party,
 Lemon curd and Christmas cake

 Rich the makes of motor whirring
 Past the pine plantation purring
 Come up Hupmobile Delage.
 Short the way our chauffeurs travel
 Crunching over private gravel,
 Each from out his warm garage.

 O but Wendy, when the carpet
 Yielded to my indoor pumps.
 There you stood, your gold hair streaming,
 Handsome in the hall light gleaming
 There you looked and there you led me
 Off into the game of Clumps.

 Then the new Victrola playing;
 And your funny uncle saying
 "Choose your partners for a foxtrot.
 Dance until it's tea o'clock
 Come on young 'uns, foot it feetly."
 Was it chance that paired us neatly?
 I who loved you so completely.
 You who pressed me closely to you,
 Hard against your party frock.

 "Meet me when you've finished eating."
 So we met and no one found us.
 O that dark and furry cupboard,
 While the rest played hide-and-seek.
 Holding hands our two hearts beating.
 In the bedroom silence round us
 Holding hands and hardly hearing
 Sudden footstep, thud and shriek

 Love that lay too deep for kissing.
 "Where is Wendy? Wendy's missing."
 Love so pure it had to end.
 Love so strong that I was frightened
 When you gripped my fingers tight.
 And hugging, whispered "I'm your friend."

 Goodbye Wendy. Send the fairies,
 Pinewood elf and larch tree gnome.
 Spingle-spangled stars are peeping
 At the lush Lagonda creeping
 Down the winding ways of tarmac
 To the leaded lights of home.

 There among the silver birches,
 All the bells of all the churches
 Sounded in the bath-waste running
 Out into the frosty air.
 Wendy speeded my undressing.
 Wendy is the sheet's caressing
 Wendy bending gives a blessing.
 Holds me as I drift to dreamland
 Safe inside my slumber wear
-- John Betjeman
Your comment about childhood innocence and the difficulty of putting words
on child thoughts [Poem #1097] brought this beautiful poem to mind.

I have a recording of Betjeman reading the poem. It is a gem. Here is this
70-year old getting inside the mind of a child in a way that is completely
innocent. Given our modern paranoia about child abuse, I wonder if anyone
other than Betjeman could get away with it.


NB: Just as I tried to send this, my email program pointed out that it
might offend! Can you believe - even the machines are paranoid.

49 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Howard Weinberg said...

Did anyone else notice the similarity of rhyme and meter to Longfellow's

Howard Weinberg

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Definely who do this poem loves Wendy and talks about her with too much nostalgic

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Anonymous said...

I don't think it's about child abuse. It seems more about general love.

Could back your child abuse accusation with a little more evidence please?

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