by Ian Scott
To many, John Masefield is simply known as the poet who wrote about the sea. Some also know him as one of the Poet Laureates. It is certain however that one is not appointed Poet Laureate by simply writing verse about ships, salt water, and wind.
It would be far better, if it is needed to describe Masefield in very few words, to call him the poet who wrote of beauty and experience.
It is interesting to note that although among the ‘general public’, Masefield's poems of sea and ships are well known, the poet himself in fact spent only a very small part of his life aboard ship. Further, it may surprise many to discover that sea life did not suit Masefield and on his second voyage, he deserted ship to find work as a land-lubber in New York City.
We were schooner rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colors of the cross bones and the skull;
We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish waters in the happy days of yore.
John Masefield, A Ballad of John Silver