The other day I came across a snooty dismissal of Betjeman’s poetry by an unmemorable critic, as just ‘social verse’. Anyone can appreciate the element of social verse in Betjeman, what used to be described, in more cultivated days, as vers de société, the wit and humour, the fun and frolics, the gentle satire. Sometimes the poem is specifically put forth as such — as with, ‘How to Get On in Society’:
But I hope to show that there is more, far more, in Betjeman than meets the eye.
‘Phone for the fish-knives, Norman…
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© A. L. Rowse 1979