The Hon. Sec.
The flag that hung half-mast today
by John Betjeman
Seemed animate with being
As if it knew for who it flew
And will no more be seeing.
He loved each corner of the links-
The stream at the eleventh,
The grey-green bents, the pale sea-pinks,
The prospect from the seventh;
To the ninth tee the uphill climb,
A grass and sandy stairway,
And at the top the scent of thyme
And long extent of fairway.
He knew how on a summer day
The sea's deep blue grew deeper,
How evening shadows over Bray
Made that round hill look steeper.
He knew the ocean mists that rose
And seemed for ever staying,
When moaned the foghorn from Trevose
And nobody was playing;
The flip of cards on winter eves,
The whisky and the scoring,
As trees outside were stripped of leaves
And heavy seas were roaring.
He died when early April light
Showed red his garden sally
And under pale green spears glowed white
His lilies of the valley;
The garden where he used to stand
And where the robin waited
To fly and perch upon his hand
And feed till it was sated.
The Times would never have the space
For Ned's discreet achievements;
The public prints are not the place
For intimate bereavements.
A gentle guest, a willing host,
Affection deeply planted -
It's strange that those we miss the most
Are those we take for granted.