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Felixstowe or The Last of Her Order

 With one consuming roar along the shingle
The long wave claws and rakes the pebbles down
To where its backwash and the next wave mingle,
A mounting arch of water weedy-brown
Against the tide the off-shore breezes blow.
Oh wind and water, this is Felixstowe.
In winter when the sea winds chill and shriller Than those of summer, all their cold unload Full on the gimcrack attic of the villa Where I am lodging off the Orwell Road, I put my final shilling in the meter And only make my loneliness completer.
In eighteen ninety-four when we were founded, Counting our Reverend Mother we were six, How full of hope we were and prayer-surrounded "The Little Sisters of the Hanging Pyx".
We built our orphanage.
We built our school.
Now only I am left to keep the rule.
Here in the gardens of the Spa Pavillion Warm in the whisper of the summer sea, The cushioned scabious, a deep vermillion, With white pins stuck in it, looks up at me A sun-lit kingdom touched by butterflies And so my memory of the winter dies.
Across the grass the poplar shades grow longer And louder clang the waves along the coast.
The band packs up.
The evening breeze is stronger And all the world goes home to tea and toast.
I hurry past a cakeshop's tempting scones Bound for the red brick twilight of St.
"Thou knowest my down sitting and mine uprising" Here where the white light burns with steady glow Safe from the vain world's silly sympathising, Safe with the love I was born to know, Safe from the surging of the lonely sea My heart finds rest, my heart finds rest in Thee.

Poem by John Betjeman
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