Great Yarmouth

Here poverty in its best clothes confronts the sea,

Which, dressed as always, has the usual things to say,

While timber-ships from Norway line the inner quay.


Some ruins from the Age of Nelson linger on:

A classic doorway near a junkyard filled with tin,

And columned windows letting fumes from fish-frys in.


Along the mean and abject streets the shops contend

For every passing pound the poor have got to spend

Before they travel back from shrimp and cockle land.


Was Baiae like this when the Goths had settled down -

The Villa of Lucullus open to the town,

And where the final Caesar dined, a menu shown?


Once there was dignity to this small watering-place.

And once the Pastons and the Howards brought a grace

Of manner suited to each poised Palladian house.


Now ugliness, grown rampant, rages everywhere,

And at it all, the poor, despoiled of beauty, stare,

While the sea washes the sand very white and pure.