The Place Where John Betjeman Lies

This short poem was inspired by a visit to the resting place of former Poet Laureate, John Betjeman (1906-1984) at St Enodoc’s Church nr Polzeath in Cornwall. Betjeman was enchanted with Cornwall, its people, its heritage and most importantly its stunning scenery. My wife and I visit the county several times a year where we own a lodge on a holiday park – more preferable to buying a second home down there and pricing a local family out of the property market. I wrote this some time ago but having made some slight amendments I am publishing it now. If you enjoy Betjeman’s poetry and other writings and haven’t been to Cornwall, especially to the places mentioned in this poem, you are missing a real treat. Enjoy.

 

In the Cornish parish of Minver

Under the shadow of Bray Hill,

Lies the Norman church of St Enodoc

Where golfers stroll the fairways still.

Its 12th Century origins restored in Victorian times

Rood, alter and stained glass, a feast for devoted eyes.

A picturesque splendour, so in keeping with the landscape it chimes

And in the corner of the Churchyard, is the place where John Betjeman lies.

 

The windswept dunes along Daymer beach

Does oft hide the view of the church from the sea,

But then a low-tide walk along the sands can reach

To Rock and to Padstow, and the ferry across the Camel estuary.

Polzeath, Trebetherick, Port Isaac and Port Quin

Since childhood these places had held him in their thrall,

With its rugged coastal cliffs and heritage of mining for tin

He wrote proudly of the county motto, says simply; One and All!

 

Names like St Petroc, St Endellion, St Tudy, St Teth

Bringers of Celtic Christianity to these pagan Cornish shores.

But to the church of St Enodoc he was carried at his death

And there he was laid to rest, betwixt the valley and the moors.

Simple poetic lines for our memories he gave

Simple poetic lines that let our imaginations rise.

Images etched into our hearts standing here beside his grave

And here in this Cornish paradise, is the place where John Betjeman lies.

 

 

 

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