Under A Mackerel Sky – Betjeman

Himackerel sky betjeman

Today’s challenge is half light and the subject must be inspired by a poem. I couldn’t find a photo which matched such criteria. But I did paint a watercolour on Betjeman’s “Devonshire Street, W1” poem and it’s set in half light so I believe it will do. Here is the poem. 


The heavy mahogany door with its wrought-iron screen
Shuts. And the sound is rich, sympathetic, discreet.
The sun still shines on this eighteenth-century scene
With Edwardian faience adornment — Devonshire Street.

No hope. And the X-ray photographs under his arm
Confirm the message. His wife stands timidly by.
The opposite brick-built house looks lofty and calm
Its chimneys steady against the mackerel sky.

No hope. And the iron knob of this palisade
So cold to the touch, is luckier now than he
“Oh merciless, hurrying Londoners! Why was I made
For the long and painful deathbed coming to me?”

She puts her fingers in his, as, loving and silly
At long-past Kensington dances she used to do
“It’s cheaper to take the tube to Piccadilly
And then we can catch a nineteen or twenty-two”.

— John Betjeman


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