John Edward Masefield, OM, was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967. He is remembered as the author of the classic children's novels The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, and poems, including "The Everlasting Mercy" and "Sea-Fever".
Masefield was born in Ledbury in Herefordshire, to Caroline and George Masefield, a solicitor. His mother died giving birth to his sister when Masefield was only six, and he went to live with his aunt. His father died soon after following a mental breakdown. After an unhappy education at the King's School in Warwick (now known... more »
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John Masefield Poems
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking, And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
QUINQUIREME of Nineveh from distant Ophir, Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine, With a cargo of ivory, And apes and peacocks,
On Growing Old
Be with me, Beauty, for the fire is dying; My dog and I are old, too old for roving. Man, whose young passion sets the spindrift flying, Is soon too lame to march, too cold for loving.
A Ballad of John Silver
We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull, And we flew the pretty colours of the crossbones and the skull; We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
I HOLD that when a person dies His soul returns again to earth; Arrayed in some new flesh-disguise Another mother gives him birth.
I HAVE seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of Spain: I have seen the lady April bringing the daffodils, Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.
A Wanderer's Song
A WIND'S in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels, I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels; I hunger for the sea's edge, the limit of the land, Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.
The West Wind
IT'S a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries; I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes. For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills. And April's in the west wind, and daffodils.
ONE road leads to London, One road leads to Wales, My road leads me seawards To the white dipping sails.
"Goneys an' gullies an' all o' the birds o' the sea They ain't no birds, not really", said Billy the Dane. "Not mollies, nor gullies, nor goneys at all", said he, "But simply the sperrits of mariners livin' again.
IN the dark womb where I began My mother's life made me a man. Through all the months of human birth Her beauty fed my common earth.
IT is good to be out on the road, and going one knows not where, Going through meadow and village, one knows not whither or why; Through the grey light drift of the dust, in the keen cool rush of the air, Under the flying white clouds, and the broad blue lift of the sky.
On Eastnor Knoll
SILENT are the woods, and the dim green boughs are Hushed in the twilight: yonder, in the path through The apple orchard, is a tired plough-boy Calling the cows home.
The Everlasting Mercy
Thy place is biggyd above the sterrys cleer, Noon erthely paleys wrouhte in so statly wyse, Com on my freend, my brothir moost enteer, For the I offryd my blood in sacrifise.
Quotationsmore quotations »
''I must down to the seas again for the call of the running tide Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.''John Masefield (1874-1967), British poet, playwright. "Sea Fever," st. 2, Salt-Water Ballads (1902). The line appears as "I must go down to the se...
''Commonplace people dislike tragedy because they dare not suffer and cannot exult.''John Masefield (1874-1967), British poet, playwright. The Tragedy of Nan, preface (1908).
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy ...