A Subaltern's Love Song
By John Betjeman (1906-1984)

  • Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
  • Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
  • What strenuous singles we played after tea,
  • We in the tournament -- you against me!
  • Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
  • The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
  • With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
  • I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.
  • Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
  • How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
  • The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
  • But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.
  • Her father's euonymus shines as we walk,
  • And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
  • And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
  • To the six-o'clock news and a lime-juice and gin.
  • The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath.
  • The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path
  • As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
  • For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.
  • On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts
  • And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
  • And westering, questioning settles the sun,
  • On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.
  • The Hillman is waiting, the light's in the hall,
  • The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
  • My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
  • And there on the landing's the light on your hair.
  • By roads "not adopted", by woodlanded ways,
  • She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
  • Into nine-o'clock Camberley, heavy with bells
  • And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.
  • Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
  • I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
  • Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
  • Oh strongly adorable tennis-girl's hand!
  • Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
  • Above us the intimate roof of the car,
  • And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
  • With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.
  • And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
  • And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
  • We sat in the car park till twenty to one
  • And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.
  • Click to return to our Poets' corner