Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

John Betjeman's Henley Regatta Poem

A nice way to round off yesterday's entry about Leander's 1912 Olympic boat is to quote Sir John Betjeman's poem 'Henley Regatta 1902' where a member of the famous club can be seen in his 'pink Leander tie'. Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) was appointed Poet Laureate in 1972.

Henley Regatta 1902

Underneath a light straw boater
In his pink Leander tie
Ev'ry ripple in the water caught the Captain in the eye.
O'er the plenitude of houseboats
Plop of punt-poles, creak of rowlocks,
Many a man of some distinction scanned the reach to Temple Island

As a south wind fluttered by,
Till it shifted, westward drifting, strings of pennants house-boat high,
Where unevenly the outline of the brick-warm town of Henley
Dominated bu her church tower and the sheds of Brakspear's Brewery

Lay beneath a summer sky.
Plash of sculls! And pink of ices!
And the inn-yards full of ostlers, and the barrels running dry,
And the baskets of geraniums
Swinging over river-gardens
Led us to the flowering heart of England's willow-cooled July.

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