Life In Leamington

Life In Leamington is what I call an opposing poem, as it is referencing John Betjeman’s Death in Leamington.
My aim is to offer a different perspective to the original poem, suggesting that while Betjeman’s protagonists are experiencing death in one Leamington household, life is being born into another.
As you will see I have made direct reference to elements in Betjeman’s poem, such as the crochet, turning UP the gas in the hall and so on, so my poem is hardly original. It isn’t meant to be. It is aiming to draw my reader closer to Betjeman’s work and at the same time, enjoy myself by writing something that pays homage to his beautiful poem. Death in Leamington remains one of my most favourite pieces. 


She was born in the upstairs bedroom

With the rise of the ev’ning star

That brought the love and beauty

All over Leamington Spa.


On the bed side a joyous crochet

Lay ready for the midwife

To warm the one it was made for

And bring the garment to life


The father had remained in the library

With his papers and all too obtuse

Sent the maid upstairs with the order

‘Put the baby’s new things to use’.

Soon she will see the bright windows

Soon her wee heart it will beat

Eyes wide she will hear all the bustle

Of life in a Leamington street.

The maid locked the cold from the window

And drew the curtains to

Then bent down to cover the fire

And kicked at the coal with her shoe.

She heard the father’s quiet footsteps

As he stepped gently up through the hall;

And passing him with a smile,

She turned up the gas in the hall.




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