How beautiful the London air, how calm and unalarming
This height above the archway where the prospects round are charming.
Oh come and take a stroll with me and do not fear to stumble.
Great Cumberland, your place I see, I hear your traffic rumble.
See Oxford Street on my left hand, a chasm full of shopping.
Below us traffic lights command the starting and the stopping.
And on my right the spacious park, so infinitely spacious,
So pleasant when it isn't dark but when it is -- good gracious!
. . . trodden by unheeding feet a spot which memory hallows:
Where Edgware Road meets Oxford Street stood Tyburn's fearsome gallows.
What martyrdoms this place has seen, what deeds much better undone.
Yet still the greatest crime has been the martyrdom of London . . .
Not having read much of Betjeman's stuff, I can't say how typical this is of him. Was his poetry, and his championing of Victorian erections like the Albert Memorial, all part of a pose, like carrying a teddy bear with him when a student at Oxford?