John Betjeman


The bear who sits above my bed
    A doleful bear he is to see;
From out his drooping pear-shaped head
    His woollen eyes look into me.
He has no mouth, but seems to say:
‘They’ll burn you on the Judgement Day.’

Those woollen eyes, the things they’ve seen;
    Those flannel ears, the things they’ve heard—
Among horse-chestnut fans of green,
    The fluting on an April bird,
And quarrelling downstairs until
Doors slammed at Thirty One West Hill.

The dreaded evening keyhole scratch
    Announcing some return below,
The nursery landing’s lifted latch,
    The punishment to undergo—
Still I could smooth those half-moon ears
And wet that forehead with my tears.

Whatever rush to catch a train,
    Whatever joy there was to share
Of sounding sea-board, rainbowed rain,
    Or seaweed-scented Cornish air,
Sharing the laughs, you still were there,
You ugly, unrepentant bear.