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Monday, 28 August 2006
Betjeman on Doubt
With a nod to Andrew Sullivan's new book and his aforementioned endorsement of skepticism and doubt, I return to John Betjeman, whose centenary is today.  Betjeman was a devout Anglican, but his poetry is full of doubts:

[On hearing some church bells at Easter, in the poem "Loneliness"]

...You fill my heart with joy and grief—
Belief!  Belief!  And unbelief...
And, though you tell me I shall die,
You say not how or when or why.

[On making small talk at a funeral, in the poem "Aldershot Crematorium"]

...And thus we try to dissipate our fears.
'I am the Resurrection and the Life':
Strong, deep and painful, doubt inserts the knife.

[On thinking about his own death, in the poem "Good-bye"]

...But better down there in the battle
Than here on the hill
With Judgement or nothingness waiting me,
Lonely and chill.

[On the Nativity story, in the poem "Christmas"]

And is it true?  And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall?

Posted on 08/28/2006 1:57 PM by John Derbyshire
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