Customer Review

74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sublime Sir John Betjeman, 3 Jan 2007
This review is from: John Betjeman, A First Class Collection (Audio CD)
I received this 2CD pack as a Christmas gift and found it a thoroughly riveting listen.Thirty-eight tracks of golden verse by,in my opinion,the best poet of the last hundred years.In this,Sir John Betjeman's centenary year,there have been many events celebrating the life and work of this very British poet and foremost visionary of the twentieth-century.

There are five readers on this 2CD pack-Stephen Fry,Derek Jacobi,Susan Jameson,Miriam Margolyes and Samuel West,all diverse voices.

The introduction was written and is read by Andrew Motion,and although a little overlong,holds the listener's interest,describing Betjeman's place in modern literature.It's also a bit over-analysed,but is very kind and admiring in its tone.

Then we come to the poetry.My personal favourites include:"Trebetherick",

read by Sir John,"A Russell Flint",also read by him,"Late-Flowering Lust",read by Derek Jacobi(in my view,the best reader on these CDs,apart,obviously,from Sir John himself),and "Wantage Bells,"with its wonderful rich warm- toned words which send shivers down the spine.

The reason why I haven't rated this work as 5 stars is that I believe that Betjeman's unique poems are incredibly difficult to read,and Sir John himself is really the only person who can read and interpret them.

However,that said,this selection is a sumptuous treat for poetry-lovers

such as myself.My very favourite poem,sad to say,"Ireland With Emily",which I had the good fortune to hear read by Candida Betjeman,the Poet Laureate's daughter,some years ago,has been left off this compilation.

Which is a shame.But please,if you love this poet's work,treat yourself this New Year to this collection.It will warm you all the way through.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Oct 2009 17:08:10 BDT
Andrew Motion, Stephen Fry, Derek Jacobi and others simply cannot match Sir John Betjeman and given that his own, unique and wonderful voice is, and will forever be available to us, via CD's and the like, do we really need their indadequate contributions? Sir John stands high above them all.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Dec 2009 22:31:51 GMT
RosieP says:
Yes, because poetry is fundamentally a spoken medium and as open to the nuance of interpretation as music.
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