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Poetry Corner July 2023

This poem is posted in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Dilton Marsh WI in 1973. The WI’s first member’s meeting was March 1973 but they celebrate their anniversary in the summer in deference to the Great British weather so on 13th July they invited a few of us to join them to mark the occasion. As a great fan of both Betjeman and railways I was delighted to find this poem in honour of Dilton Marsh.

Dilton Marsh Halt

Was it worth keeping the Halt open,

We thought as we looked at the sky

Red through the spread of the cedar-tree,

With the evening train gone by?

Yes, we said, for in summer the anglers use it,

Two and sometimes three

Will bring their catches of rods and poles and perches

To Westbury, home for tea.

There isn't a porter. The platform is made of sleepers.

The guard of the last train puts out the light

And high over lorries and cattle the Halt unwinking

Waits through the Wiltshire night.

O housewife safe in the comprehensive churning

Of the Warminster launderette!

O husband down at the depot with car in car-park!

The Halt is waiting yet.

And when all the horrible roads are finally done for,

And there's no more petrol left in the world to burn,

Here to the Halt from Salisbury and from Bristol

Steam trains will return.

John Betjeman

- Submitted by Gill Gibbson-Piggot, Chair WFWI


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