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Felixstowe or The Last of Her Order

by John Betjeman

 
With one consuming roar along the shingle
The long wave claws and rakes the pebbles down
To where its backwash and the next wave mingle,
A mounting arch of water weedy-brown
Against the tide the off-shore breezes blow.
Oh wind and water, this is Felixtowe.

In winter when the sea winds chill and shriller
Than those is summer, all their cold unload
Full on the gimcrack attic of the villa
Where I am lodging off the Orwell Road,
I put my final shilling in the meter
And only make my loneliness completer.

In eighteen ninety-four when we were founded,
Counting our Revered Mother we were six,
How full of hope we were and prayer surrounded
"The Little Sisters of the Hanging Pyx".
We built our orphange. We ran our school.
Now only I am left to keep the rule.

Here in the gardens of the Spa Pavilion
Warm in the whisper of a summer sea,
The cushioned scabious, a deep vermillion,
With white pins stuck in it, looks up at me
A sun lit kingdom touched by butterflies
And so my memory of winter dies.

Across the grass the poplar shades grow longer
And louder clang the waves along the coast.
The band packs up. The evening breeze stronger
And all the world goes home to tea and toast.
I hurry past a cakeshop's tempting scones
Bound for the red brick twilight of St John's.

"Thou knowest my sitting and mine uprising"
Here where the white light burns with steady glow
Safe from vain world's silly sympathising,
Safe with Love that I was born to know,
Safe from the surging of the lonely sea
My heart finds rest, my heart finds rest in Thee.
 
 
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