‘It is unlikely' Patrick Taylor-Martin writes, 'that even Betjeman's most fervent admirers would claim that he was a major poet.' Is that so? What, then, are we to make ofchristopher Booker's claim that 'A Lament for Moira 'McCavendish' is the most heartrending poem in the English language? How are we to take the constant adulation of Betjeman by literary skinheads such as Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin? The truth is that there are quite a few people who do argue that John Betjeman is a-major poet - even if they do it only pour épater les highbrows.
Taylor-Martin himself is not disinclined to grant Betjeman a status he doesn't deserve. He quotes with apparent approval Dr.Johnson's comment on Gray’s Elegy:
I rejoice to concur with the common reader; for by the common sense of readers uncorrupted with literary, prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism