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Collected poems Hardcover – 1971


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039512705X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395127056
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 11.9 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,070,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A true poet who extends experience (Margaret Lane)

John Betjeman has succeeded . . . in narrowing the gulf between poetry and the public . . . he has established a personal regency over all contemporary taste (The Times)

It would be difficult - in my opinion impossible - to point to a contemporary poet of greater originality or more genuine depth of feeling (Anthony Powell) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

This is the definitive John Betjeman collection reissued for the centenary of his birth, and includes his verse autobiography Summoned by Bells in its entirety --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Robin Johnston on 15 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
This was my first introduction to JB. I raced through the entire book in about 2 days and have re-read my favourites many times over since then.

Maybe it's because his views coincide with my own in so many ways, maybe the language he uses, maybe I'm just nostalgic for the rose-tinted past, but something in his writing is absolutely captivating.

I recently saw Joanna Lumley reading one of his poems (Myfanwy) on TV. It could have been written for her, and has become my favourite, perhaps taking me back to my own days at boarding school.

For me, that's the thing about Betjeman - he's so accessible to someone like me who doesn't know much about poetry that his writing allows me to feel as though I'm in the middle of it all, looking around me.

I know this review will be of little use to Betjeman aficionados, but perhaps it may serve as an encouragement for anyone who is not familiar with him to make an effort to get to know him better. It's a journey well worth taking (even if, like I do, you live not a million miles away from Slough).
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "peterjeanbradshaw" on 22 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
I was introduced to the original Collected Poems by my college room-mate circa 1960, and have loved the poems ever since. Several of them I learned by heart, and can generaly quote to this day. So much so that my son (now living on a different continent from me) must have heard the original so often, he brought to my attention the misquoting of 'Slough' in a recent International Herald Tribune article. My original paperback copy is now falling apart, and how can I resist getting a new one?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Martyn Taylor on 18 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
Beautiful word-smithing in a self-deprecating series dealing with perceived change and decay of the old order of society referenced by geography and architecture cloaking a perceptive sharpness. Good value for a penny.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hannah on 3 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful collection. I honestly think that John Betjemann was a very great poet. He was very much a poet of the everyday and had a remarkable ability to give even the most ordinary experiences of life a depth of meaning which brings you up short and makes you look at things in a different way and see things of which you had been unaware. To me this is a mark of a true poet. I read this collection over and over again and each time discover new treasures in it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 1 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This collection requires no praise from a mere mortal like myself. I keep it on my Kindle and have it there to dip into as required, something anyone who lives away from England, just to remind themselves of their heritage - times, places and people.
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By GlynLuke TOP 100 REVIEWER on 1 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback
In a televised interview a little before his death, poet laureate John Betjeman was asked if he had any regrets. After a thoughtful pause, the above was his delightful and honest answer.
Delightful and honest are two words that can easily apply to his poetry and prose, both of which was prolific. In this excellent, comprehensive anthology we have his poetry, including, I'm glad to say, his long autobiographical sequence Summoned By Bells, which appropriately closes this 500-page volume.
John Betjeman was no cosy or (perish the thought) 'feelgood' poet, but rather a melancholy, resourceful, witty and unique voice. He may remind one of Larkin or Stevie Smith, or Wordsworth or even Blake at times, but the effect is illusory. He was very much his own man, and this valuable collection shows all aspects of his literary - as well as his personal - character.
Try the following opening lines from the short poem Fetlar 1973:

Fetlar is waiting. At its little quay
Green seaweed stirs and ripples on the swell.
The lone sham castle looks across at Yell,
And from the mainland hilltops you can see
Over to westward, glimmering distantly,
The cliffs of Foula as the clouds dispel.

Apart from perhaps the third line, I wouldn't have known this was by Betjeman. But then, many a poem here is little or nothing like the image we have of the elderly, plum-voiced roamer of hills and vales, hair awry, voice wry with regret or high on hilarity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P Nantwich on 6 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
His mastery of words so beautifully set to verse is captivating. Since I bought it I take it everywhere with me. I will never tire of reading it again and again and being in my seventies now I am committing as many of them to memory as I can in the hope it will help keep my brain active. Also, there is a very good double CD of many of his collected poems read by famous actors. Often listened to on long car journeys.
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By Douglas Kemp on 15 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Betjeman’s poetry is sometimes frowned upon by poetry aficionados, as it is accessible, mostly metrical and rhyming and infused with a wistful nostalgia; all that modern poetry is very often decidedly not. Despite being frequently set in a Cornwall, Ireland or London’s metroland that has long ago passed, and must be unfamiliar to a contemporary younger reader, it has a timeless characteristic. It is mannered and genteel, and rather like Philip Larkin (who was also a huge admirer of Betjeman), the uncertainty and fear of death can often be seen in many of the poems, particularly his later ones. Betjeman’s poems seem to be easy to write – but their apparent simplicity and accessibility masks a superb art, and an ability to capture and see the world in a way that speaks directly and powerfully to the reader demonstrates just how excellent these poems are.
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