Christmas (John Betjeman)


Aan alle bezoekers en mede-bloggers een Prettig Kerstfeest!


Aanbidding der herders door Sebastiano Conca, 1720




The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

John Betjeman (28 augustus 1906 - 19 mei 1984)
Londen, Somerset House in de kersttijd. John Betjeman werd geboren in Londen.



Zie voor de schrijvers van de 26e december ook mijn drie vorige blogs van vandaag.

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Rita Dove, John Betjeman, Elmar Schenkel, Janet Frame, William Robertson Davies, Joeri Trifonov


De Amerikaanse schrijfster en dichteres Rita Frances Dove werd geboren op 28 augustus 1952 in Akron, Ohio. Zie ook alle tags voor Rita Dove op dit blog en ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2009 en ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2010.


Lines Composed On The Body Politic

Less than the charting of each dawn's resolutions,
less than each evening's trickle of doubt,
less than a crown's weight in silver, a diamond's
scratch against glass, less than the touted

ill luck of my rich beginnings—and yet
more than Eve's silence, my mute ingratitude.
More than music's safe passage, its rapturous net,
more than this stockpile of words, their liquid solicitude;

more desired than praise (the least-prized of my dreams),
less real than dreaming (castle keep for my sins),
more than no more, which seems
much less than hoped-for, again—
one mutiny, quelled; one wish lost, a forgotten treasure:
to live without scrutiny, beyond constant measure.



"Teach Us To Number Our Days"

In the old neighborhood, each funeral parlor
is more elaborate than the last.
The alleys smell of cops, pistols bumping their thighs,
each chamber steeled with a slim blue bullet.

Low-rent balconies stacked to the sky.
A boy plays tic-tac-toe on a moon
crossed by TV antennae, dreams

he has swallowed a blue bean.
It takes root in his gut, sprouts
and twines upward, the vines curling
around the sockets and locking them shut.

And this sky, knotting like a dark tie?
The patroller, disinterested, holds all the beans.


Rita Dove (Akron, 28 augustus 1952)

Lees meer...


Bij de vierde zondag van de Advent (Advent 1955, John Betjeman)

Bij de vierde zondag van de Advent


Weihnachtsmarkt in Hildesheim door Oskar Popp, 1928



Advent 1955

The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It's dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver pale
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spin round
On some momentous journey bound -
Journey to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out 'Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.'

And how, in fact, do we prepare
The great day that waits us there -
For the twenty-fifth day of December,
The birth of Christ? For some it means
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards, And I remember
Last year I sent out twenty yards,
Laid end to end, of Christmas cards
To people that I scarcely know -
They'd sent a card to me, and so
I had to send one back. Oh dear!
Is this a form of Christmas cheer?
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for advertising?
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch
And are not rich but love us much
Some ways indeed are very odd
By which we hail the birth of God.

We raise the price of things in shops,
We give plain boxes fancy tops
And lines which traders cannot sell
Thus parcell'd go extremely well
We dole out bribes we call a present
To those to whom we must be pleasant
For business reasons. Our defence is
These bribes are charged against expenses
And bring relief in Income Tax
Enough of these unworthy cracks!
'The time draws near the birth of Christ'.
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago
Yet if God had not given so
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger.



John Betjeman (28 augustus 1906 - 19 mei 1984)
Londen, kerstmarkt, Southbank. John Betjeman werd in Londen geboren.



Zie voor de schrijvers van de 22e december ook mijn vorige twee blogs van vandaag.

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John Betjeman, Elmar Schenkel, Janet Frame, William Robertson Davies, Joeri Trifonov


De Engelse dichter en literatuurcriticus Sir John Betjeman werd geboren in Londen op 28 augustus 1906. Zie ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2009 en ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2010



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
Whensoever 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.



John Betjeman (28 augustus 1906 - 19 mei 1984)


Lees meer...


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, A. Moonen, Frederick Kesner, Rita Dove, John Betjeman, Elmar Schenkel, Joeri Trifonov, Janet Frame, William Robertson Davies


Zie voor de volgende schrijvers van de 28e augustus mijn blog bij seniorennet.be


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, A. Moonen, Frederick Kesner, Rita Dove


Zie voor de volgende schrijvers van de 28e augustus ook bij seniorennet.be mijn vorige blog van vandaag. 


John Betjeman, Elmar Schenkel, Joeri Trifonov, Janet Frame, William Robertson Davies


Janet Frame, William Robertson Davies, John Betjeman, Elmar Schenkel

De Nieuw-Zeelandse dichteres en schrijfster Janet Frame werd geboren in Dunedin en groeide op in Oamaru. Zie ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2006 en ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2007 en ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2008.



Storms Will Tell


Storms will tell; they can be trusted.

On the sand the wind and high tide write

bulletins of loss, imperfect shells,

by smooth memorial of high-country trees,

sea-weed, ripped bird, fine razor, ramshorn, cockleshell.


Give us the news say the tall ascetics reading

ten miles of beach over and over; between empty shells, look,

burning from the salt press, stories

of flood: How I abandoned house and home.

Razor: How I slit the throat of sunlight.

Ramshorn: How I butted and danced at the ewe sunlight.

Cockle: How my life sailed away on a black tide.





The Suicides


It is hard for us to enter

the kind of despair they must have known

and because it is hard we must get in by breaking

the lock if necessary for we have not the key,

though for them there was no lock and the surrounding walls

were supple, receiving as waves, and they drowned

though not lovingly; it is we only

who must enter in this way.


Temptations will beset us, once we are in.

We may want to catalogue what they have stolen.

We may feel suspicion; we may even criticise the décor

of their suicidal despair, may perhaps feel

it was incongruously comfortable.


Knowing the temptations then

let us go in

deep to their despair and their skin and know

they died because words they had spoken

returned always homeless to them.






Janet Frame (28 augustus 1924 – 29 januari 2004)





De Canadese schrijver William Robertson Davies werd geboren op 28 augustus 1913 in Thamesville, Ontario. Zie ook mijn blog van 28 augustus 2007.


Uit: The Cunning Man


“Didn’t heat the rectory properly. Didn’t dress himself in anything but ancient clothes. . . . Ate awful food. . . . Gave every penny he had to the poor. . . . He used to roam around the parish on winter nights, up and down all the alleys, looking for bums who might have dropped down drunk, and who might freeze. Time and again he brought one of them home and put him in his own bed, while he slept on a sofa. . . . He was very generous to whores who were down on their luck. He made their more prosperous sisters stump up to help them in bad times. Got the whores to come to Confession and be scrubbed up, spiritually. . . . You should have seen the whores at his funeral. Got into trouble because he let the church fabric run down, giving away money that should have gone for heating. . . . Of course with an example like that, money rolled in. St. Aidan’s wasn’t a rich parish by any means, but people stumped up astonishingly to help Father Hobbes, because he never spared himself. . . . There was an extraordinary atmosphere about the place.“






William Robertson Davies (28 augustus 1913 – 2 december 1995)






De Engelse dichter en literatuurcriticus Sir John Betjeman werd geboren in Londen op 28 augustus 1906. De oorspronkelijke familienaam was Betjemann. De laatste n verdween tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog om de naam minder Duits te doen lijken. Betjeman groeide op in een buitenwijk van Londen. Hij studeerde in Oxford, maar behaalde daar niet zijn graad, omdat hij zijn werk verwaarloosde. Zijn jeugd en studententijd beschreef hij in Summoned by Bells (1960). Hij vond werk in het onderwijs en later als journalist. Recent werd duidelijk dat hij zich tijdens de oorlog met spionageactiviteiten bezighield. Betjeman nam zichzelf niet al te serieus. Zijn poëzie is mede daardoor zeer toegankelijk. Ook werd hij populair als televisiepersoonlijkheid. Kenmerkend voor zijn poëzie is dat hij bijna al zijn gedichten in verband bracht met een plek, vaak een dorp, soms een gebouw. Betjeman was bovendien een autoriteit op het gebied van Britse architectuur en probeerde dit in zijn werk te populariseren. In 1969 werd hij geridderd en in 1972 werd hij Poet Laureate.



Seaside Golf


How straight it flew, how long it flew,

It clear'd the rutty track

And soaring, disappeared from view

Beyond the bunker's back -

A glorious, sailing, bounding drive

That made me glad I was alive.


And down the fairway, far along

It glowed a lonely white;

I played an iron sure and strong

And clipp'd it out of sight,

And spite of grassy banks between

I knew I'd find it on the green.


And so I did. It lay content

Two paces from the pin;

A steady putt and then it went

Oh, most surely in.

The very turf rejoiced to see

That quite unprecedented three.


Ah! Seaweed smells from sandy caves

And thyme and mist in whiffs,

In-coming tide, Atlantic waves

Slapping the sunny cliffs,

Lark song and sea sounds in the air

And splendour, splendour everywhere.






Sun and Fun


I walked into the night-club in the morning;

There was kummel on the handle of the door.

The ashtrays were unemptied.

The cleaning unattempted,

And a squashed tomato sandwich on the floor.


I pulled aside the thick magenta curtains

-So Regency, so Regency, my dear –

And a host of little spiders

Ran a race across the ciders

To a box of baby ‘pollies by the beer.


Oh sun upon the summer-going by-pass

Where ev’rything is speeding to the sea,

And wonder beyond wonder

That here where lorries thunder

The sun should ever percolate to me.


When Boris used to call in his Sedanca,

When Teddy took me down to his estate

When my nose excited passion,

When my clothes were in the fashion,

When my beaux were never cross if I was late,


There was sun enough for lazing upon beaches,

There was fun enough for far into the night.

But I’m dying now and done for,

What on earth was all the fun for?

For I’m old and ill and terrified and tight.






John Betjeman (28 augustus 1906 - 19 mei 1984)






De Duitse schrijver en vertaler Elmar Schenkel werd geboren in Hovestadt (Westfalen) op 28 augustus 1953. Hij studeerde kunstgeschiedenis, sinologie en filosofie in Marburg en anglistiek, romanistiek en germanistiek in Freiburg. Hij publiceerde o. A, werk over John Cowper Powys, Hugo Kükelhaus, H. G. Wells, over lyriek en over de verhouding tussen literatuur en natuurwetenschap. Ook vertaalde hij poëzie uit het Engels. Als schrijver is hij vooral bekend door zijn literair-essayistische geschriften en reisverslagen. Sinds 1993 is hij hoogleraar Engelse literatuur in Leipzig.


Uit: H. G. Wells


„Es gibt wenige Spaziergänger bei Wells; keine geruhsamen, resignierten Wanderer, Abkömmlinge der Romantik, Meditierende und Zukurzgekommene wie in der deutschen Literatur. Ging er selbst spazieren? Wir wissen, daß er gerne wanderte, aber oft war es ihm zu langsam, er konnte ungeduldig sein, und deshalb zog er Fahrzeuge vor. Zunächst das Fahrrad, das eine Zeitlang auch Dreirad, Tricycle, war. Auf dem Fahrrad begann er die Landschaft, aber auch die Luft zu entdecken, Bewegungen des Himmels, Luftschiffe, so daß sich aus dem Zweirad in seinen Geschichten bald Fluggeräte erhoben, Zeppeline, Ballons, fischartige Gestalten und allerlei Konstruktionen, die über den Ärmelkanal schwebten, noch bevor Blériot seinen Flug antrat; Fluggeräte auch, die von Deutschland über den Atlantik flogen, um Amerika zu erobern; schließlich Fahrzeuge für das All, Raketen, Kapseln mit Antischwerkraftelementen. Später bestieg Wells das Auto und noch später wurde das Flugzeug
sein Vehikel, mit dem er aus der Vogelperspektive die Weltorte sah und den Weltplan zu schmieden begann. Er hatte, bei allem demokratischen Denken, immer etwas Diktatorisches, und für die Diktatur war, wie die Futuristen es in die Welt blökten, das Flugzeug geboren worden. Aber Wells haßte auch die Diktaturen, er bekämpfte Faschismus und Kommunismus, bewunderte zunächst Stalin, verachtete Hitler und Mussolini, bewunderte Lenin und Roosevelt, kritisierte sie alle, und bestieg wieder das Flugzeug, um an den Menschenrechten zu arbeiten, um eine Weltenzyklopädie zu entwerfen und um das Weltgehirn in Form einer offenen Verschwörung, einer open conspiracy, vorzubereiten.
Fahrzeuge befreiten ihn von der Welt, die er als uneingelöste, unfertige, noch zu verwirklichende haßte und liebte. Man könnte sein Werk nach Fahrzeugen einteilen: das Fahrrad rast durch The Time Machine (Die Zeitmaschine), ist gar identisch mit ihr, durch den Radlerroman The Wheels of Chance (Die Räder des Glücks); durch die Sozialsatiren Kipps, Mr. Polly und Love and Mr. Lewisham. Es verwandelt sich in The War in the Air (Der Luftkrieg) zunächst in ein Motorrad, dann in einen Ballon und schließlich in eine Flugmaschine. In The First Men in the Moon (Die ersten Menschen auf dem Mond) steigt die Raketenkapsel in den Weltraum, während auf dem Mond andere Arten der Fortbewegung praktiziert werden, etwa das schwerelose Hüpfen oder die merkwürdigen Bewegungen der Mondbewohner, der Seleniten. Die Marsianer lassen sich mit Projektilen zur Erde schießen und staken auf hohen Dreifüßen durch England. In mehreren Erzählungen - etwa in "Under the Knife" ("Unter dem Messer") - verläßt der Mensch das Fahrzeug namens Körper und läßt das Bewußtsein selbst ausfliegen. In dieser Geschichte verläßt der Mensch den irdischen Innenraum; Information und Bewegung werden eins. So ließe sich Wells' Werk als Diagramm von Bewegungen und Fahrzeugen beschreiben, auch als Diagramm von Geschwindigkeiten, vom Auftauchen und Verschwinden.“





Elmar Schenkel (Hovestadt, 28 augustus 1953)