Harvest Bells : New and Uncollected Poems by John Betjeman by John Betjeman
John Betjeman’s unforgettable poems on landscape and suburbia, desire and death, faith and doubt, helped to establish him as the beloved voice of a nation. Yet the ten books of poetry he published individually, later assembled in the Collected Poems, were an incomplete representation of his poetic oeuvre. Many poems published in journals or magazines were excluded from Betjeman’s books by him or his editors and a substantial number of finished poems were never printed at all, remaining unknown to readers – until now. In this exquisite new edition of Betjeman’s verse editor Kevin Gardner promises new treasures for ‘Betj’s’ admirers the world over. Betjeman wrote many of these poems in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when he was still developing his unique poetic voice. They reveal a young poet experimenting with both Modernism and post-Romanticism, yet influenced by Shelley and Pope among others. Some of these poems are profoundly psychological, personal and deeply affecting to read today. Several have the delicate and eccentric touch of much of his early poetry and shed new light on his growth as a young poet, while many others reflect the sustained maturity of his later verse. Almost all are typically amusing and highly witty in the style typical of Betjeman; some verge on the bawdy and even, in one instance, point towards homosexuality. These charming and surprising new discoveries, found in archives as far apart as Austin, Texas, and Christ Church, Oxford, will delight poetry lovers and introduce a whole new generation to Betjeman’s unforgettable work.
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