I am using the Reader-Response approach to the poem “A Subaltern’s Love Song” by John Betjeman (1945). The first thing that captured my imagination was the reference to a tennis tournament because of my competitive nature. And that these two people, that I assume at least knew each other and were probably dating, were playing against each other. I got the feeling that there was a good possibility that he let her win the tournament and in the end he won her.
The author is sharing a love story that could be construed as an event in his own life.
He starts by painting a picture of a lady that spends time in the sun and either has a deep tan or sunburn from the sun in Aldershot, England. He then goes on to describe the tennis match that they had against each other and his feelings about losing. He shares how he was mad at first and then became sad, and finally glad that she won.
You witness this in the line “How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won. ” This is also where I got the feeling that he may have let her win and after doing so, he was mad at himself for giving in to his competitive side.
After the tennis tournament, he walked her home which he made seem like time went by very quickly as they were consumed in conversation with each other as can be seen in the lines “Her father’s euonymus shines as we walk and swing past the summer-house buried in talk… He seems to be enamored by her. “The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath, The view from my bedroom of mossdappled path, As I struggle with double-end evening tie, For we dance at the Golf Club, my ictor and I. ”
When I read this the first time I thought they were still at her house. After reading it a second time, I realized that he was in his own bedroom getting ready for the dance at the Golf Club and having trouble tying his bow-tie. When they get to the dance, they end up not going in but instead sit in the car and possibly have a little intimate time together as it talks about looking at the roof the car and her voice.
Around us are Rovers6 and Austins afar, Above us the intimate roof of the car, And here on my right is the girl of my choice, With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice. . The chime in her voice could be like music to his ears. By roads “not adopted,” by woodlanded ways, She drove to the club in the late summer haze, Into nine-o’clock Camberley,4 heavy with bells And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.. I get the picture that he’s talking about roads that are paved and heavily traveled when he says “By roads ‘not adopted,’ by woodlanded ways. It reminds me of going on a short trip into a city where the elite would be throwing a gala party. The end of poem gives you the results of their day as he concludes the poem with “We sat in the car park til twenty to one and now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.
Depending on how you look at it, he could either be happy that he is engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, or he could have meant it as he enjoyed spending the day with her, but didn’t expect that it would go further than a good time. As a whole, the poem could also reflect on how two people interact with each other when it comes to competing with each other, and how one gives up the fight to win in order to maintain happiness. Sometimes when we lose one prize, we end up winning a bigger prize.
Cite this A Subaltern’s Love Story
A Subaltern’s Love Story. (2016, Sep 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-subalterns-love-story/