Books: Major Minor Poet

John Betjeman, 52, is a gentle, witty, rumpled Englishman who has been called "the greatest bad poet now living." It would be in character if he agreed with that estimate, although he can be called "bad" only in the sense that his rhymes sometimes jingle like a song writer's and that his subjects are often deliberately homely. Literary bookmakers predict that Betjeman (rhymes with fetch-a-man) will be England's next poet laureate. By last week, his Collected Poems had caused a rush on British bookstores probably unmatched by any newly published work of poetry since Byron's Childe Harold burst forth in 1812....

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