John Betjeman

The Friends of the Cathedral

  At the end of our Cathedral
    Where people buy and sell
It says “Friends of the Cathedral”,
    And I’m sure they wish it well.

Perhaps they gave the bookstall
    Of modernistic oak,
And the chairs for the assistants
    And the ashtrays for a smoke.

Is it they who range the marigolds
    In pots of art design
About “The Children’s Corner”,
    That very sacred shrine?

And do they hang the notices
    Off old crusader’s toes?
And paint the cheeks of effigies
    That curious shade of rose?

Those things that look like wireless sets
    Suspended from each column,
Which bellow out the Litany
    Parsonically solemn—

Are these a present from the Friends?
    And if they are, how nice
That aided by their echo
    One can hear the service twice.

The hundred little bits of script
    Each framed inn passe-partout
And nailed below the monuments,
    A clerical “Who’s Who”—

Are they as well the work of Friends?
    And do they also choose
The chantry chapel curtains
    In dainty tea-shop blues?

The Friends of the Cathedral—
    Are they friendly with the Dean?
And if they do things on their own
    What does their friendship mean?