John Betjeman Poems

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John Betjeman
John Betjeman CBE (28 August 1906 19 May 1984) was an English poet, writer and broadcaster who described himself in Who's Who as a "poet and hack". He was born to a middle-class family in Edwardian Hampstead. Although he claimed he failed his degree at Oxford University, his early ability in writing poetry and interest in architecture supported him throughout his life. Starting his career as a journalist, he ended it as British Poet Laureate and a much-loved figure on British television. Betjeman was born John Betjemann, which was changed to the less Germanic "Betjeman" during the First World War. He started life at Parliament Hill Mansions on the bottom edge of Hampstead Heath in north London. His parents Mabel (ne Dawson) and Ernest Betjemann had a family firm, which manufactured the kind of ornamental household furniture and gadgets so loved by Victorians. His father's forebears had come from Bremen, Germany,[1] more than a century earlier, setting up their home and business in Islington, London. In 1909, the Betjemanns left Parliament Hill Mansions, moving half a mile north to more opulent Highgate, where, from West Hill, in the reflected glory of the Burdett-Coutts estate, they could look down on those less fortunate: Here from my eyrie, as the sun went down, I heard the old North London puff and shunt, Glad that I did not live in Gospel Oak.

winter night
 
 
It snowed and snowed, the whole world over,
Snow swept the world from end to end.
A candle... [read poem]
devonshire street w.1
 
 
The heavy mahogany door with its wrought-iron screen
Shuts. And the sound is rich, sympatheti... [read poem]
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