Review: Complete Poems of John Betjeman

Ahhhhh, Sir John Betjeman. He’s the kind of person you read if Prince Harry just ain’t fucking British enough for ya. Take the tram up Tottenham-of-Berfordshire and come to the land of Hobbiton and The Shire. Much of this book is too esoteric for Americans to “get” but I imagine if you’re British and you’re not at home this stuff will make you nostalgic. The best of this collection is quite great and contrary to what Christopher Hitchens says of the British laureate-ship and the downhill tendencies exhibited after earning of it, I didn’t see a dive in quality. In fact, I had given up on this book for a long time before I reached the material to which Hitchens would’ve referred. It was his calling himself a “poet and a hack” that made me really come back. It takes a big man to admit to hack tendencies, I think, and as far as poets go he may never reach the heights of whatsay your Tennyson but that could be a deficiency of aim rather than actual talent.

Final Grade: B-

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