A Land for all Seasons An Anthology by John Betjemen - Birds Eye View


Britain from a helicopter BBC2 on 18th April 1971

Running Time 47 mins 


Genesis 8.22

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

The Human Seasons  John Keats
Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:

He has his Summer, when luxuriously
Spring's honied cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature


02.16 Narrator John Betjeman

On Yon unsheltered mountain height of  Wales

The stalwart precipices face the gales

While gathering clouds assume a threatening form

And valleys wait the inevitable storm

Under the Winters unrelenting sky

Caernavonshire and Merionith  lie

And who will think there would ever be

An end to Winters tyranny


03.13 Narrator John Betjeman

When Snow and Mist obscure the trees

And Winter’s grip is like a vice

The Farmers ponds and buckets freeze

Then he must up and break the ice

And early in the morning rise

To bring his sheep their scant supplies

Oh who would farm these barren slopes

When roads are blocked with drifting snows

The farmer only lives on hope

As with his wonted work he goes

For all the yard is frozen mud

Not a sign of blade or bud


04.08 Narrator John Betjeman

The fleecy sheep are dirty grey

Beside the snow so white around

But none so biddable as they

Now fodder hardly can be found

So great their hunger scarce they hark

The shepherd’s dog familiar bark


04.33 Dylan Thomas

Every morning when I wake,
Dear Lord, a little prayer I make,
O please do keep Thy lovely eye
On all poor creatures born to die

And every evening at sun-down
I ask a blessing on the town,
For whether we last the night or no
I’m sure is always touch-and-go.

We are not wholly bad or good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.

O let us see another day!
Bless us all this night, I pray,
And to the sun we all will bow
And say, good-bye – but just for now!



Over the land freckled with snow half thawed

The speculating rooks at their nests cawed

And saw from elm tops delicate as flower of grass

What we below could not see

Winter passed




06.06 Jean Ingelow

So far  so fast the eygre drave,
The heart had hardly time to beat,
Before a shallow seething wave
Sobbed in the grasses at our feet:
The feet had hardly time to flee
Before it brake against the knee,
And all the world was in the sea.


Note:- eygre is a tidal wave


06.30  John Clare

So moping flat and low our valleys lie

So dull and muggy is our Winter’s sky

Drizzling from day to day with threats of  rain

And when that falls still threatening on again

From one wet week so great an ocean flows

That every village to an island grows

And every road for even weeks to come

Is stopt and none but horseman go from home


07.06 Narrator John Betjeman

Fled now the sullen murmurs of  the north

The splendid rainment of the Spring

Peeps forth her universal green.

No wildness fills these long undancing rows

Of daffodils in level Lincolnshire

Before they bloom

They will be gathered for an early tomb

In the deep freeze their resurrection day

Will see them openMiles and miles  away

 In florists shops from Hull to Harringay




We fight the wind the rain and the  mud thick earth

Through the hungry years for the hungry mouths

Our banners are the dragging pains in the back

The heavy head

We are the toilers and moilers

The breeding women of the lanes and fields

We hate the laughter we have lost  the laughter we have gained

Our daughters will know our pain

We are the finished and withered

The ending and fading

We are the ending and the beginning



Good morning Lords & Ladies

It is the First of May

We hope you/ll view our garland 

It is so bright and gay

For It is the First of May

For it is the First of May

Remember Lords and Ladies

It is the First of May

And now you’ve seen our garland

We must be on our way

But remember Lords & Ladies

It is the First of May

For it is the first of May

Oh it is the first of May


09.42 Narrator John Betjeman

Ten Thousand times Ten Thousand

At Spaldings annual show

The regimented tulips

In ordered armies go


10.47 Thomas Hardy  The Wedding Morning

Tabitha dressed for her wedding

Tabby why look so sad ?

O I feel a great gloominess spreading, spreading,
Instead of supremely glad! . . .
 “I called on Carry last night,
 And he came whilst I was there,
Not knowing I’d called. So I kept out of sight,
And I heard what he said to her:
Oh, I’d far liefer marry
You, Dear, to-morrow!’ he said,
‘But that cannot be.’ - O I’d give him to Carry,
And willingly see them wed,
“But how can I do it when
His baby will soon be born?
After that I hope I may die. And then
She can have him. I shall not mourn!’



James Russell Lowell

What Is So Rare As A Day in June

And what is so rare as a day in June?

Then, if ever, come perfect days;

Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,

And over it softly her warm ear lays;

Whether we look, or whether we listen,

We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;



12.47 Glory, Glory to the Sun by John Alford

Glory , glory to the sun
who spends his being
caring not what he shines upon
nor for whose seeing.
In the furrow swells the wheat
and the chestnut leaf respires,
quickened to life by the heat
of his innocent fires.
Small thanks the farmer allows,
turning his hay,
but watches with reckoning brows
the fall of the day.

13.25 Narrator John Betjeman

Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter

In the Cotswold summer time

For you and me. your son & daughter

This familiar childhood rhyme

(baa baa blacksheep)


13.47 Thomas Hood , I Remember, I Remember

I remember, I remember

The house where I was born,

The little window where the sun

Came peeping in at morn;

He never came a wink too soon

Nor brought too long a day;

But now, I often wish the night

Had borne my breath away.


I remember, I remember

The roses red and white,

The violets and the lily cups--

Those flowers made of light!

The lilacs where the robin built,

And where my brother set

The laburnum on his birthday,--

The tree is living yet!


I remember, I remember

Where I was used to swing,

And thought the air must rush as fresh

To swallows on the wing;

My spirit flew in feathers then

That is so heavy now,

The summer pools could hardly cool

The fever on my brow.


I remember, I remember

The fir-trees dark and high;

I used to think their slender tops

Were close against the sky:

It was a childish ignorance,

But now 'tis little joy

To know I'm farther off from Heaven

Than when I was a boy.



The Haunted House by Thomas Hoof


A residence for  woman, child and man

A dwelling place and yet no habitation

A House, but under some prodigious ban

Of ex-communication

Unhinged the iron gates half open hung

Jarred by the gusty gales of many winters

That from its crumbled pedestal had flung

One marble globe in splinters

No dog was at the threshold great or small

No pigeon on the roof. No household creature

No cat demurely dozing on the wall

Not one domestic feature



All how silent and how still

Nothing heard but yonder mill

While the dazzled eye surveys

All around a liquid blaze

Oh for a puffing breeze to blow

But breezes are all strangers now

Not a twig is seen to shake

Nor the smallest bent to quake

From the rivers muddy side

Not a curve is seen to glide

And no longer on the stream

Watching lies the silver bream

Forcing from repeated springs

Verges in successive rings

Bees are faint and cease to hum

Birds are overpowered and dumb

Rural voices are all mute

Tuneless lies the pipe and flute



The Village Curate

Now Comes July, and with his fervid moon

Unsinews labour. The swinkt mower sleeps

The weary maid rakes feebly. The warm swain

Pitches his load reluctant. The faint steer

Lathing his sides draws sulkily along

The flow encumber’d wain. The hedgerow now

Delights, or still shade of silent lane

Or Cool impending arbor , there to read,

Or talk and laugh or meditate and sleep.



Narrator -John Betjeman

How often memory brings to me

From Asthall up to Asthall Leigh

The Sound of cartwheels in the Lane

The Smell of Wallflowers after rain

The River Windrush winding back

Upon itself, the grassy track

To Kitesbridge Farm, the family pew

The Gabled manor house, the yew,

The cottages, the village street

The sheepdog panting in the heat.



Here in the country's heart
Where the grass is green
Life is the same sweet life
As it e'er hath been.

Trust in a God still lives,
And the bell at morn
Floats with a thought of God
O'er the rising corn.

God comes down in the rain,
And the crop grows tall
This is the country faith,
And the best of all !



Lord who would live in towns with men

And hear the hum of human greed

With such a life as this to lead


18.45   The Pylons

The secret of these hills was stone, and cottages
Of that stone made,
And crumbling roads
That turned on sudden hidden villages.

Now over these small hills
they have built the concrete
That trails black wire:
Pylons, those pillars
Bare like nude, giant girls that
have no secret.




Where is the miner who tunnelled the hills

The Mother who milked the cow

Sheep, sheep nothing but sheep

Never a shovel or plough

Never an oven to bake the bread

Never a family lately wed

Sheep, sheep nothing but sheep

Where are the Welshmen now



Job Davis Eighty-five Winters old and still alive

After the slow poison and treachery of the seasons

What’s living but courage?
Paunch full of hot porridge
Nerves strengthened with tea,
Peat-black, dawn found me

Mowing where the grass grew,
Bearded with golden dew.
Rhythm of the long scythe
Kept this tall frame lithe

What to do? Stay green.
Never mind the machine,
Whose fuel is human souls
Live large, man, and dream small


O if we but knew what we do 
When we delve or hew 
Hack and rack the growing green! 
Since country is so tender 
To touch, her being só slender, 
That, like this sleek and seeing ball 
But a prick will make no eye at all, 
Where we, even where we mean 
To mend her we end her, 
When we hew or delve: 
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been. 
Rural scene, a rural scene, 
Sweet especial rural scene. 


21.29 Narrator John Betjeman
Farewell to trees and hedges
Man is free
And in the coming season
He will be… one of the millions
Racing to the Sea
(here comes the Sun lyrics)



The Stately homes of England Lyrics

 Noel Coward


24.09 Narrator John Betjeman

To Lancaster and Morecambe‘s annual show

Fatstock and fashion and the wrestlers go

And here behold in simulated rage

Both Cumberland and Westmorland engage


Famed Grasmere Sports they draw their thousands still

As athletes struggle up the craggy hill.



Ye Presences of Nature in the sky
And on the earth! Ye Visions of the hills!
And Souls of lonely places
26.42 Narrator John Betjeman
We spray the fields and scatter
The poison on the ground
So that no wicked wild flowers
Upon the farm be found
We like whatever helps us
To line our purse with pence
The tweny four hour broiler house
and neat electric fence
All concrete sheds around us
All Jaguars in the yard
The telly lounge and deep freeze
Are ours from working hard
Hymn  “All is safely gathered in”
 Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest-home:
All be safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home! 
28.43 Narrator John Betjeman
We fire the fields for harvest
The hedges swell the flame
The oak trees and the cottages
From which our fathers came
We give no compensation
The earth is ours today
And if we lose on arable
Then caravans will pay


Our ancient halls have left the land, 
Turrets and towers have passed away, 
Arcades and porticoes were planned 
And these again have had their day: 
Impatient, peevish wealth recalls 
The forms which she defaced before, 
Unthrifty sires destroyed the halls, 
Which modern prodigals restore;
The far Welsh hills once white with sheep are bare
Spruced for the chances of the Autumn Fair
In unprotesting multitudes
They wait the final shutting of their master’s gate
30.45 Thomas Hardy
The day arrives of the autumn fair,
And torrents fall,
Though sheep in throngs are gathered there,
Ten thousand all,
Sodden, with hurdles round them reared:
And, lot by lot, the pens are cleared,
And the auctioneer wrings out his beard,
And wipes his book, bedrenched and smeared,
And takes the rain from his face with the edge of his hand,
As torrents fall.

The wool of the ewes is like a sponge
With the daylong rain:
Jammed tight, to turn, or lie, or lunge,
They strive in vain.
Their horns are soft as finger-nails,
Their shepherds reek against the rails,
The tied dogs soak with tucked-in tails,
The buyers’ hat-brims fill like pails,
Which spill small cascades when they shift their stand
 In the daylong rain.



Sigfried Sassoon

Who needs words in autumn woods
When colour concludes decay?
There old stories are told in glories
For winds to scatter away.

William Wordsworth

How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
Oh sylvan Wye! thou wanderer  through the wood,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!



John Dwyer

Now, I gain the mountain's brow,
What a landscape lies below!
No clouds, no vapours intervene,
But the gay, the open scene
Does the face of nature show,
In all the hues of heaven's bow!
And, swelling to embrace the light,
Spreads around beneath the sight.

Half its beams Apollo sheds
On the yellow mountain heads.

Gilds the fleeces of the flocks
And glitters on the broken rocks
Below me trees unnumbered rise
Beautiful in various dyes
Look how those steep woods on the mountain’s face
Burn,  burn against the sunset now the cold
Invades our very noon the years’s grown old
Mornings are dark and evenings come apace


33.58  Tolkien

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.[3]
For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.[4]


The Sea is all cold and farewell to the sun

The beaches are  barren

The bathing is done
Each holidaymaker has gone to his home
To varnish his dinghy
And polish his chrome
The Winter’s upon us
The countryman’s dawn
In the pack in the field
Will  follow the horn


Wilfrid Blunt
I LIKE the hunting of the hare 
Better than that of the fox; 
I like the joyous morning air, 
And the crowing of the cocks. 
I like the calm of the early fields, 
The ducks asleep by the lake, 
The quiet hour which Nature yields, 
Before mankind is awake. 
I like the pheasants and feeding things 
Of the unsuspicious morn; 
I like the flap of the wood-pigeon's wings 
As she rises from the corn. 
I like the blackbird's shriek, and his rush 
From the turnips as I pass by, 
And the partridge hiding her head in a bush 
For her young ones cannot fly. 
I like these things, and I like to ride 
When all the world is in bed, 
To the top of the hill where the sky grows wide, 
And where the sun grows red. 
The beagles at my horse heels trot 
In silence after me; 
There's Ruby, Roger, Diamond, Dot, 
Old Slut and Margery,-- 
A score of names well used, and dear, 
The names my childhood knew; 
The horn, with which I rouse their cheer, 
Is the horn my father blew. 
I like the hunting of the hare 
Better than that of the fox; 
The new world still is all less fair 
Than the old world it mocks. 



They are gone now those beautiful creatures

Their day will never return

The ploughman is dead
I cannot forget them
They stride all night through my country dreams
I see them still at first cock crow
In lanterned stables waiting to be led out
Bells jingling heads nodding
To work those old fields again
I hear the ploughman singing
Gone the old look that yoked him to the soil
He is a new man now part of the machine
Nerves of metal and his blood oil
The clutch curses but the gears obey
His least bidding and Lo he is away
Out of the farmyard scattering hens
Riding to work now as a great man should


38.00  Robert Binyon 

Now is the time for the burning of the leaves.
They go to the fire; the nostril pricks with smoke
Wandering slowly into a weeping mist.
Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!
A flame seizes the smouldering ruin and bites
On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.

The last hollyhock's fallen tower is dust;
All the spices of June are a bitter reek,
All the extravagant riches spent and mean.
All burns! The reddest rose is a ghost;
Sparks whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild
Fingers of fire are making corruption clean.

Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,
Time for the burning of days ended and done,
Idle solace of things that have gone before:
Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there;
Let them go to the fire, with never a look behind.
The world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.

They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.


39.00  Song Do ye ken John Peel;

40.00 James Thomson

Through the hushed air the whitening shower descends

At first thin wavering; till at last the flakes

Fall broad, and wide, and fast, dimming the day

With a continual flow. The cherished fields

Put on their winter-robe of purest white

’Tis brightness all; save where the new snow melts

Along the mazy current. Low, the woods

Bow their hoar head; and, ere the languid sun

Faint from the west emits his evening ray

Earth’s universal face, deep-hid and chill

Is one wild dazzling waste, that buries deep

The works of man
41.09 William Henry Davis

Who knows the perfect life on earth?
It lies beyond this mortal breath;
It is to give the same kind thoughts
To Life as we bequeath to Death.

It is to show a steadfast love;
As faithful to our friends that live
As our dead friends are to ourselves -
Sealed up from gossip, in the grave.

But who can lead this saintly life,
When friends are false and men unkind;
And every man will cheat a man
Whose trust, like faith in God, is blind?


42.30 H Vaughan The Retreat

HAPPY those early days,

When I shined in my Angel-infancy!

Before I understood this place

Appointed for my second race

Or taught my soul to fancy aught

But a white, celestial thought

When yet I had not walk'd above

A mile or two from my first Love

And looking back, at that short space

Could see a glimpse of His bright face

When on some gilded cloud or flower

My gazing soul would dwell an hour

And in those weaker glories spy

Some shadows of eternity



T S Elliot Little Gidding


Midwinter spring is its own season

Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,

Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.

When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,

The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,

In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,

Reflecting in a watery mirror

A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.

And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,

Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire

In the dark time of the year.

Between melting and freezing

The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell

Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time

But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow

Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom

Of snow, a bloom more sudden

Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,

Not in the scheme of generation.

Where is the summer, the unimaginable

Zero summer?

( I vow to thee my Country )



My dear companions

You that have been more to me

Than grief or gaiety this sure is true

That we shall meet once more beyond deaths door

Again be merry friends

Where friendship never ends



Jupiter from the Planets Suite

Genesis 8.22


While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease