Summoned By Bells (Excerpt)
Walking from school is a consummate art:
by John Betjeman
Which route to follow to avoid the gangs,
Which paths to find that lead, circuitous,
To leafy squirrel haunts and plopping ponds,
For dreams of Archibald and Tiger Tim;
Which hiding place is safe, and when it is;
What time to leave to dodge the enemy.
I only once was trapped. I knew the trap -
I heard it in their tones: 'Walk back with us.'
I knew they weren't my friends; but that soft voice
Wheedled me from my route to cold Swain's Lane.
There in a holly bush they threw me down,
Pulled off my shorts, and laughed and ran away;
And, as I struggled up, I saw grey brick,
The cemetery railings and the tomb.