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Personal Choice 55


Kind o’er the kinderbank leans my Myfanwy,

White o’er the playpen the sheen of her dress,

Fresh from the bathroom and soft in the nursery

Soap scented fingers I long to caress.

Were you a prefect and head of your dormit’ry?

Were you a hockey girl, tennis or gym?

Who was your favourite? Who had a crush on you?

Which were the baths where they taught you to swim?

Smooth down the Avenue glitters the bicycle,

Black-stockinged legs under navy blue serge,

Home and Colonial, Star, International,

Balancing bicycle leant on the verge.

Trace me your wheel-tracks, you fortunate bicycle,

Out of the shopping and into the dark,

Back down the avenue, back to the potting shed,

Back to the house on the fringe of the park.

Golden the light on the locks of Myfanwy,

Golden the light on the book on her knee,

Finger marked pages of Rackham’s Hans Anderson,

Time for the children to come down to tea.

Oh! Fullers’ angel-cake, Robertson’s marmalade,

Liberty lampshade, come shine on us all,

My! what a spread for the friends of Myfanwy,

Some in the alcove and some in the hall.

Then what sardines in half-lighted passages!

Locking of fingers in long hide-and-seek.

You will protect me, my silken Myfanwy,

Ring leader, tom-boy, and chum to the weak.

John Betjeman

Sir John Betjeman (1906 – 1984) was an English poet, writer, and broadcaster. He was Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death. He was a founding member of The Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture, helping to save St Pancras railway station from demolition. He began his career as a journalist and ended it as one of the most popular British Poets Laureate and a much-loved figure on British television.

Suburbia, tea parties and churches - John Betjeman's poetry is a joyous celebration of his times and an affectionate satire on his middle-class roots. John Betjeman makes most modern poets look either desperately amateurish or desperately professional


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