The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday and Tiny Critters

Diary Of A Church Mouse
By John Betjeman

Here among long-discarded cassocks,
Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks,
Here where the vicar never looks
I nibble through old service books.
Lean and alone I spend my days
Behind this Church of England baize.
I share my dark forgotten room
With two oil-lamps and half a broom.
The cleaner never bothers me,
So here I eat my frugal tea.
My bread is sawdust mixed with straw;
My jam is polish for the floor.
Christmas and Easter may be feasts
For congregations and for priests,
And so may Whitsun. All the same,
They do not fill my meagre frame.
For me the only feast at all
Is Autumn's Harvest Festival,
When I can satisfy my want
With ears of corn around the font.
I climb the eagle's brazen head
To burrow through a loaf of bread.
I scramble up the pulpit stair
And gnaw the marrows hanging there.
It is enjoyable to taste
These items ere they go to waste,
But how annoying when one finds
That other mice with pagan minds
Come into church my food to share
Who have no proper business there.
Two field mice who have no desire
To be baptized, invade the choir.
A large and most unfriendly rat
Comes in to see what we are at.
He says he thinks there is no God
And yet he comes… it's rather odd.
This year he stole a sheaf of wheat
(It screened our special preacher's seat),
And prosperous mice from fields away
Come in to hear our organ play,
And under cover of its notes
Ate through the altar's sheaf of oats.
A Low Church mouse, who thinks that I
Am too papistical, and High,
Yet somehow doesn't think it wrong
To munch through Harvest Evensong,
While I, who starve the whole year through,
Must share my food with rodents who
Except at this time of the year
Not once inside the church appear.
Within the human world I know
Such goings-on could not be so,
For human beings only do
What their religion tells them to.
They read the Bible every day
And always, night and morning, pray,
And just like me, the good church mouse,
Worship each week in God's own house,
But all the same it's strange to me
How very full the church can be
With people I don't see at all
Except at Harvest Festival.


We had a crazy number of chores to do on Saturday that required driving all around the county, which normally would not have been a big deal, but between the accidents and the road repairs in the wake of the snowstorm -- even though it was over 50 degrees and we had icicles crashing on the deck all morning -- the Beltway and various local roads were a mess! We started by meeting Ocean Orchestra bandleader Jennifer Cutting in Takoma Park because I wanted to buy her magnificent mermaid moccasins, then we went to Rockville for lunch at Noodles & Co. and a whole bunch of shopping, primarily AAA for maps, bike lock for son, and kitty litter, where we also saw this:


Then we drove up to Gaithersburg because we also had a shopping list at Kohl's and Target, for which we also had coupons. We did not go see the geese on the melting lake because we needed to get home to feed our starving cats. We also had dinner ourselves, watched the Maryland women's basketball team win their Big 10 semifinal game, then watched an episode of Inspector Lewis (so much fun playing spot-the-British-actor on BBC shows -- this one had Kitty from Elementary and Lavinia from Downton Abbey). Now we're watching Chris Hemsworth on Saturday Night Live (somehow he looks shorter with short hair) trying to decide whether to stay up while the clocks go back!

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