Comparative essay between 'Sun and Fun' and 'Devonshire Street W.1' by John Betjeman.

Essay by somastrokesA-, March 2003

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These two poems, although sharing an ultimately common theme, differ greatly in their content and style. Although the typical indications of Betjeman's work (simple rhyming and structured stanzas) are evident in both, it is obvious to the reader that his intentions for each poem and how they are interpreted do not correlate.

The essence of both poems is death and what it means to the subject. With 'Sun and Fun' we are presented with one poetic voice in the first person narrative - a night-club proprietress. The poem is full of regret and disdain, with our subject looking back at her life and the realization that a materialistic, superficial existence has not benefited her in the slightest. In fact, here she is, alone in a dirty, squalid nightclub without help, support or anything to look forward to. These feelings of hopelessness and morbidity are echoed in 'Devonshire Street W.1'

yet the character described in this poem, and the range of emotions he experiences, are much more intense for he has just been informed by his doctor that his death is imminent, to be taken by a terminal disease. Unlike 'Sun and Fun', the setting here is cold, traditional and sterile, perhaps a reflection of a numb and dazed mind.

With 'Sun and Fun', the narrator reflects on her past with young suitors, fashionable clothes, holidays and passion. We are given the impression that, although important at the time, these memories are useless to her and that everything around her was temporary; fleeting moments of fun that could not last forever. With nothing to support or stimulate her, no companion or solidity within her life, what else is there to live for? Betjeman gives the reader the impression here that this woman lives through her regret on a daily...