John Betjeman

Distant View of a Provincial Town

Beside those spires so spick and span
    Against an unencumbered sky
The old Great Western Railway ran
    When someone different was I.

St. Aidan’s with the prickly nobs
    And iron spikes and coloured tiles—
Where Auntie Maude devoutly bobs
    In those enriched vermillion aisles:

St. George’s where the mattins bell    
    But rarely drowned the trams for prayer—
No Popish sight or sound or smell
    Disturbed that gas-invaded air:

St Mary’s where the Rector preached
    In such a jolly friendly way
On cricket, football, things that reached
    The simple life of every day:

And that United Benefice
    With entrance permanently locked, —
How Gothic, grey and sad it is
    Since Mr. Grogley was unfrocked!

The old Great Western Railway shakes
    The old Great Western Railway spins—
The old Great Western Railway makes
    Me very sorry for my sins.