Thursday, September 10, 2009



John Betjeman, Inexpensive Progress:
Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
  O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
  That through your valleys roll.

Let's say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
  And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor-car is master
  Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
  'Keep Left,' 'M4,' 'Keep Out!'
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
  The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small 'amenity,'
  Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
  With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
  For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
  Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
  Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
  And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
  Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we'll be erecting
  A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
  Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
  We'll know that we are dead.

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