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The fine Summer weather has found me at the coast, dipping tentative toes into the chilly sea. I was reminded of this poem from John Betjeman. It seems to perfectly evoke long, sunny days of blissful, carefree happiness which hint at the endless possibilities of youth. Whatever about  the poor jellyfish, left to melt in the sun, just listen to the wave-like rhythm of the third verse, “When you were swimming breast-stroke, all/Along the rocking sea/And, in between the waves, explain’d/The Universe to me.” There is a beautiful sense of discovery, freedom and the joy of love.


How emerald the chalky depths
Below the Dancing Ledge!
We pulled the jelly-fishes up
And threw them in the hedge
That with its stones and sea-pink tufts
Ran to the high cliff edge.

And lucky was the jelly-fish
That melted in the sun
And poured its vitals on the turf
In self-effacing fun,
Like us who in each other’s arms
Were seed and soul in one.

O rational the happy bathe
An hour before our tea,
When you were swimming breast-stroke, all
Along the rocking sea
And, in between the waves, explain’d
The Universe to me.

The Dorset sun stream’d on our limbs
And scorch’d our hinder parts:
We gazed into the pebble beach
And so discussed the arts,
O logical and happy we
Emancipated hearts.

Taken from A Nip in the Air (1974)