New Library at Pontefract

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New Library at Pontefract

(on seeing a film featuring John Betjeman)


Long, long ago, when I was twelve,

John Betjeman was here

to make romance for Pontefract,

to make it very clear

that this was not some northern town

of legend, cold and drear,

but hill-top place, Italianate -

the self-same atmosphere

that brought the olive growers in

to market year by year.


For olives, please read liquorice -

and no, you mustnt sneer,

For townscape qualities like this

are (please believe me dear)

designed to raise the soul of man

to bring us all good cheer.

Town planners now, it seems to me

lose sight of this idea.

Their modern blocks are hideous,

depressing, and austere.


In Ponte now, I tread your steps,

departed balladeer,

where no one much remembers that

John Betjeman was here.

Still stands the library you loved -

its Nouveau lines all clear -

but library no more, alas -

good God! - your eyes would blear -

theyve built a new one opposite -

egg-boxy - concrete - queer

John BetjemanPontefractYorkshire

◄ Old Money (Fete Day at the Old People's Home)

Two Trips to the Orthodontist ►


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Ray Miller

Wed 3rd Oct 2012 23:54

Good answer. I certainly agree about the archaism and Betjeman, but it does kind of stick out a bit, being the sole occurrence.I'd be inclined to move library in the later line, which itself would probably cause some domino effect so you're best as you are.

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Andrew Brown

Wed 3rd Oct 2012 23:27

Sid - 'The library you loved still stands' would place the word 'library' in exactly the same position as two lines later, and a little archaism is perhaps excusable in a poem mentioning Betjeman.

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Harry O'Neill

Wed 3rd Oct 2012 21:01

Clarity! clarity!Clarity!

And what a last line!

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Ray Miller

Wed 3rd Oct 2012 14:56

Nice poem. I like the liquorice shtick.
Which do you prefer?

Still stands the library you loved

The library you loved still stands

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Andrew Brown

Wed 3rd Oct 2012 12:50

The old library became a museum. This little film is made funny by the absolute incredulity of Betjeman's interviewer. 'Surely this building is a monstrosity?' he says, and the poet calmly explains the craft and value of art nouveau.

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 3rd Oct 2012 00:25

This is good! Not only that, the recitation itself is
spot on. 10/10 in both.

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John Coopey

Tue 2nd Oct 2012 20:17

'Ey up, Browny.
What's tha doin' writin' verse?
I's'll etta keep mi eye on thee.

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Anthony Emmerson

Tue 2nd Oct 2012 16:33

Hi Andrew,

The esteemed Sir John would, I'm sure, have approved! Very cleverly done; especially to find 14 rhymes (and not forced either!) for "here." Excellent - just like those little black "cakes."


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Margaret Holbrook

Tue 2nd Oct 2012 15:35

What is the old library now? And by the way, I like this.

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