John Masefield (1878-1967) is one of the great storytellers of English poetry, a spinner of yarns and ballads of tall ships and exotic seas, of the deep-rooted life of the rural England in which he grew up, and of the great narratives of Troy and Arthurian legend. Some included here - 'Sea-Fever' and 'Cargoes' - are among the best-loved poems in English; others are little known; a few are hitherto uncollected rarities. All share Masefield's love of the particular lives of seafarers and those who work the land, and his ability to draw the reader into their stories. This is a representative anthology of Masefield's poems, in chronological sequence spanning his long career. The editor provides a full introduction to Masefield's work.
'One of the great story-tellers of English poetry was John Masefield. With consummate ease, he weaves yarns spun from the deep-roooted likfe of the rural England in which he grew up...yet, in the wink of an eye, can also draw from the classical well of Arthurian legend. Then there are the great narratives of Troy and the romances of the ancient world that so fascinate him. John Masefield was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire, in 1878, going to sea while still a teenager in order to complete his education. Taken ill en route to South America, he was classified as a Distressed British Sailor upon his arrival in Chile. It was there that he decided to become a writer "come what might". After a period of homeless vagrancy, bar and factory work, Masefield returned to England in 1897. His frienship with WB Yeats provided the vital spark of encouragement that would launch the young traveller into the literary world and eternal fame. This wide-ranging selection of his works, edited with an introduction by Philip W Errington, is only partly made up of ballads of tall ships and exotic seas, for there is also a considerable pastoral section that pays lyrical homage to his beloved Herefordshire countryside. But it is the salt spray that gives savour to these pages, as this late-Victorian poet views the world through the prisms of the British Empire. His was a world that still reverberated to the roar of broadsides, where gold doubloons glistened in the sunshine of the Spanish main...of tarry pirates, mainsails and poop decks, crows' nests and pivot guns. Masefield was obviously overwhelmed by the thought that he was sailing the same waters as Sir Francis Drake, "El Draco", scourge of the devilish Dons. This is a fine collection that completely evokes the spirit of one of Britain's best-loved poets. ' John Phillpott, Worcester Evening News.
John Masefield was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire, in 1878. He was orphaned at an early age and, after a brief period at the King's School, Warwick, was educated aboard the Liverpool school-ship 'Conway'. As an apprentice, Masefield sailed round Cape Horn in 1894; as a result of sickness, he was classified a Distressed British Sailor upon arrival in Chile. After convalescence in England he secured a new position in New York. Although he crossed the Atlantic, he never reported for duty. He later noted, "I was going to be a writer, come what might." After a period of homelessness and vagrancy, bar and factory work in America, Masefield returned to England in 1897. His first published poem appeared in a periodical in 1899. The friendship of W.B. Yeats provided encouragement, and in 1902 'Salt-Water Ballads' was published. A distinguished literary career followed, with work across a broad range of genres. Masefield was appointed poet laureate in 1930, and awarded the Order of Merit in 1935. He died in 1967; his ashes are buried in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey.
Introduction xv. 1899-1911. from Salt-Water Ballads A Consecration 1 Burial Party 2 Bill 3 Fever Ship 3 Hell's Pavement 4 Sea-Change 4 Harbour-Bar 5 Nicias Moriturus 6 A Night at Dago Tom's 6 'Port o' Many Ships' 7 Mother Carey 8 Trade Winds 9 Sea-Fever 10 A Wanderer's Song 10 Cardigan Bay 11 The Tarry Buccaneer 12 A Ballad of John Silver 13 The West Wind 14 Sorrow o' Mydath 15 Vagabond 15 Spunyarn 16 Personal 16 On Eastnor Knoll 17 'All Ye That Pass By' 17 In Memory of A.P.R. 18. from Ballads The Ballad of Sir Bors 18 Spanish Waters 19 Cargoes 20 Captain Stratton's Fancy 21 St Mary's Bells 22 London Town 23 The Emigrant 24 The Seekers 25 Hall Sands 26 Laugh and be Merry 27 Blind Man's Vigil 28 Roadways 29. from A Mainsail Haul ['I yarned with ancient shipmen.'] 30. from Ballads [second edition] Twilight 30. from Ballads and Poems Posted as Missing 31 A Creed 31 When Bony Death 33 Being Her Friend 33 Fragments 34 The Death Rooms 36 C.L.M. 37 Waste 38 Third Mate 38 Christmas, 1903 39 The Word 40. from The Street of To-Day ['O beauty, I have wandered far.'] 40. Miscellaneous Verse, 1899-1911 Sonnet - To the Ocean 41 [Before Beginning] 42 Theodore 42 ['Oh some are fond of cow's milk.'] 43 Theodore to his Mother 44 Vallipo 45 The Gara Brook 46 Westward Ho 46 The Whale 47 The Salcombe Seaman's Flaunt to the Proud Pirate 49 Campeachy Picture 50 Theodore to his Grandson 51 By a Bier-Side 52 Chorus 52 [The Pirate Poet on the Monte] 53. 1911-1921. from The Everlasting Mercy Saul Kane's Madness 54 ['O lovely lily clean.'] 60. from The Widow in the Bye Street [The Ending] 61. from Dauber ['Denser it grew.'] 62 We Therefore Commit Our Brother 64. from Philip the King and other poems Truth 67 The Wanderer 68 August, 1914 76 [Extract I from 'Biography'] 78 [Extract II from 'Biography'] 79 They Closed Her Eyes 79. from The Faithful [Kurano's Song] 83. from Good Friday ['They cut my face.'] 83 ['The wild duck.'] 84 ['Only a penny.'] 86 from Sonnets and Poems (Letchworth: Garden City Press) V ('Here in the self is all that man can know') 87 VI ('Flesh, I have knocked at many a dusty door') 87 VII ('But all has passed, the tune has died away') 88 VIII ('These myriad days, these many thousand hours') 88 IX ('There, on the darkened deathbed, dies the brain') 89 X ('So in the empty sky the stars appear') 89 XI ('It may be so with us, that in the dark') 90 XII ('What am I, Life? A thing of watery salt') 90 XIII ('If I could get within this changing I') 91 XIV ('What is this atom which contains the whole') 91 XV ('Ah, we are neither heaven nor earth, but men') 92 XVI ('Roses are beauty, but I never see') 92 XVII ('Over the church's door they moved a stone') 93 XIX ('O little self, within whose smallness lies') 93 XX ('I went into the fields, but you were there') 94 XXVI ('Wherever beauty has been quick in clay') 94 XXX ('Not for the anguish suffered is the slur') 95 XXXIII ('You will remember me in days to come') 95 XXXVII ('If all be governed by the moving stars') 96 XXXVIII ('In emptiest furthest heaven where no stars are') 96 XL ('For, like an outcast from the city, I') 97 XLI ('Death lies in wait for you, you wild thing in the wood') 97 XLII ('They called that broken hedge The Haunted Gate') 98 XLIV ('Go, spend your penny, Beauty, when you will') 98 XLVII ('Let that which is to come be as it may') 99. from Sonnets and Poems (Lollingdon: John Masefield) XXXIV ('If Beauty be at all, if, beyond sense') 100 XXXV ('O wretched man, that, for a little mile') 100 XXXVI ('Night is on the downland, on the lonely moorland') 101. from Gallipoli Epilogue 102. from Salt-Water Poems and Ballads The New Bedford Whaler 102. from Lollingdon Downs and other poems, with sonnets III ('Out of the special cell's most special sense') 103 V ('I could not sleep for thinking of the sky') 103 VI ('How did the nothing come, how did these fires') 104 VII ('It may be so; but let the unknown be') 104 IX ('What is this life which uses living cells') 105 X ('Can it be blood and brain, this transient force') 105 XI ('Not only blood and brain its servants are') 106 XXIV ('Here the legion halted, here the ranks were broken') 106. from Reynard the Fox ['The fox was strong.'] 107 ['And here, as he ran to the huntsman's yelling.'] 108 The End of the Run 109. from Enslaved and other poems [Gerard's Answer] 114 Sonnets 116 The Lemmings 118 On Growing Old 118. from Right Royal ['As a whirl of notes.'] 119. from King Cole King Cole Speaks 120. Miscellaneous Verse, 1911-1921 Die We Must 121 The Gara River 122 Skyros 123. 1922-1930. from King Cole and other poems The Rider at the Gate 124 The Haunted 126. from Odtaa The Meditation of Highworth Ridden 129. from The Midnight Folk [Not a Nice Song by Rollicum Bitem] 130 [Miss Piney Tricker] 130 [The Wind] 131 [Naggy] 131 from The Coming of Christ [Song of the Chorus] 132. from Midsummer Night and other tales in verse The Begetting of Arthur 133 Midsummer Night 142 Dust to Dust 148. from Any Dead to Any Living Any Dead to Any Living 149. Miscellaneous Verse, 1922-1930 The Racer 150 St Felix School 150 ['On these three things a poet must depend.'] 151 Lines on Sea Adventure 152 Polyxena's Speech 154. 1930-1967. from The Wanderer of Liverpool Adventure On 156 Liverpool, 1890 157 Liverpool, 1930 158 Pay 158 Eight Bells 159 Posted 159 If 160. from Minnie Maylow's Story and other tales and scenes Son of Adam 161. from A Tale of Troy The Horse 167. from The Conway After Forty Years 169. from The Box of Delights [Old Rum-Chops' Song] 169 from Victorious Troy ['When the last captives.'] 170. from A Letter from Pontus and other verse Ballet Russe 170 February Night 172 Wood-Pigeons 172 Autumn Ploughing 173 Partridges 174 The Towerer 175 The Eyes 176 Porto Bello 177 A Ballad of Sir Francis Drake 178 The Mayblossom 180 Sweet Friends 182. from The Country Scene On England 183 Lambing 184 Nomads 184 The Gallop on the Sands 185 The Morris Dancers 185 The Mare and Foal at Grass 186 The County Show 186 Elephants in the Tent 186 The Roadside Inn 187 The Procession of the Bulls 187 The Tight-rope Walker 188 Their Canvas Home 188 The Horse and Trap at the Ford 189 The Horse in the Barn 189 The Ploughing Match 190 Hunting 190 Timber Hauling 191 The Gipsies in the Snow 192. from Tribute to Ballet The Foreign Dancers 192 The Indian Dancers 194 The Class 195 Rehearsal 196 The Seventh Hungarian Dance of Brahms 198 Masks 198 Where They Took Train 199 The Painter of the Scene 199 Not Only The Most Famous 200. from Some Memories of W.B. Yeats On His Tobacco Jar 200 ['Willy's Geese.'] 202. from The Nine Days Wonder Thoughts for Later On 203. from A Generation Risen The Paddington Statue 204 The Station 204 Paddington. Mother and Son 205 Two Soldiers Waiting 205 Sentries 206 Crews Coming Down Gangways 206. from On the Hill Blown Hilcote Manor 207 The Wind of the Sea 208. from The Bluebells and other verse A Cry to Music 209 The Strange Case of Captain Barnaby 210. from Old Raiger and other verse Jane 214 Pawn to Bishop's Five 215 Lines for the Race of Sailing Ships, Lisbon to the Hudson Bridge, near Manhattan, 1964 219 King Gaspar and His Dream 220. from Grace Before Ploughing Epilogue 223. from In Glad Thanksgiving Remembering Dame Myra Hess 224 For Luke O'Connor 224 A Song of Waking 225 What The Wrekin Gave 226 Give Way 227 Old England 227. Miscellaneous Verse, 1930-1967 ['They buried him.'] 228 [Ode on the Opening of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre] 228 To Rudyard Kipling 229 For the Men of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets 230 Neville Chamberlain 230 The Many and the Man 230 Red Cross 231 ['In the black Maytime.'] 232 ['Let a people reading stories.'] 233 ['Walking the darkness.'] 233 Now 234 The Ambulance Ship [.] Port of London Authority: A Morning Drill 234 For All Seafarers 237 A Moment Comes 238 On the Ninetieth Birthday of Bernard Shaw 239 Franklin Delano Roosevelt 240 A Hope for the Newly-Born 240 [The Laying of the Foundation Stone of The National Theatre] 240 On the Birthday of a Great Man 241 On Coming Towards Eighty 241 In Memory of Alfred Edward Housman 243 Words to the Speakers of Poetry 243 To the Great Friends in Lifetime 244 John Fitzgerald Kennedy 245 East Coker 246 Sir Winston Churchill 246 [On Swinburne] 247 Remembering Dame Myra Hess 247. Sources 249 Index of First Lines 254