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It’s really enjoyable to read the work of John Betjeman end to end one after the other and get an overall flavour as well as the particular enjoyment of single stanzas, verses, the run of two or three poems together as well as being able to piece together the various themes that recur over many years and many different context. John Betjeman was a poet who appealed to me through one or two individual poems, particularly the wonderfully camp A Subaltern’s Love Song.but now having run through the Collected Poems, it is easy to identify so many insights, laughs, sad thoughts, the shock of the seedy, the decay and the camp jollity that can be remembered as 1960’s and 1970’s Britain. It is a trip back to a memory of a country that probably never was for me, but one that I really enjoyed spending time in.
The foreword by Andrew Motion is really insightful and puts an academic cast of Betjeman which is really a long way from the Radio 2 world he inhabited and inhabits - a lovely set of poems which brought me warm memories and warmth thoughts in the early Spring days of 2011 against a backdrop of troubles in the Middle East and disaster in Japan. What a world, what a world.
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