Dec 21, 2022 • 6M


John Betjeman

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We’re getting close, dear readers, very close to the feast of the Nativity.

The poet John Betjeman saw plenty of the Christmas that isn’t Christmas, and the waiting that isn’t waiting, of the sort that has nothing to do with Jesus, or with the poor, the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned, the sinner trying to repent, the dying man trying to make his peace with God, or with anyone, anyone at all, awaiting the coming of the beloved Son. And in our Poem of the Week, he casts a sardonic eye its way. Oh, it is the easiest thing in the world to do, to criticize a commercialized holiday, a feast stripped of all that will make it a feast indeed, rather than just a family party. Betjeman does and doesn’t do that. He imagines the English people, from the villagers to the city folk in London, people of all classes, getting ready to celebrate the day, mainly by doing two things. They decorate their houses, town halls, city trams, and churches with holly and yew and bunting and bright paper, an…

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