Trebetherick ( John Betjeman)

We used to picnic where the thrift

Grew deep and tufted to the edge;

We saw the yellow foam flakes drift

In trembling sponges on the ledge

Below us, till the wind would lift

Them up the cliff and o’er the hedge.

Sand in the sandwiches, wasps in the tea,

Sun on our bathing dresses heavy with the wet,

Squelch of the bladder-wrack waiting for the sea,

Fleas around the tamarisk, an early cigarette.

From where the coastguard houses stood

One used to see below the hill,

The lichened branches of a wood

In summer silver cool and still;

And there the Shade of Evil could

Stretch out at us from Shilla Mill.

Thick with sloe and blackberry, uneven in the light,

Lonely round the hedge, the heavy meadow was remote,

The oldest part of Cornwall was the wood as black as night,

And the pheasant and the rabbit lay torn open at the throat.

But when a storm was at its height,

And feathery slate was black in rain,

And tamarisks were hung with light

And golden sand was brown again,

Spring tide and blizzard would unite

And sea come flooding up the lane.

Waves full of treasure then were roaring up the beach,

Ropes round our mackintoshes, waders warm and dry,

We waited for the wreckage to come swirling into reach,

Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy, John and I.

Then roller into roller curled

And thundered down the rocky bay,

And we were in a water world

Of rain and blizzard, sea and spray,

And one against the other hurled

We struggled round to Greenaway.

Blesséd be St Enodoc, blesséd be the wave,

Blesséd be the springy turf, we pray, pray to thee,

Ask for our children all happy days you gave

To Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy, John and me.

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