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Definition: Masefield from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

John Masefield 1878–1967 Eng. author; poet laureate (1930–67)

Summary Article: Masefield, John
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English poet and novelist. His early years in the merchant navy inspired Salt Water Ballads (1902) and two further volumes of poetry, and several adventure novels; he also wrote children's books, such as The Midnight Folk (1927) and The Box of Delights (1935), as well as plays. The Everlasting Mercy (1911), characterized by its forcefully colloquial language, and Reynard the Fox (1919) are long verse narratives. He was poet laureate from 1930.

Born in Ledbury, Herefordshire, Masefield went to sea at the age of 15 and made the voyage round Cape Horn. He lived in the USA for three years and worked as a barman in a New York saloon and in a carpet factory. Returning to England, he took a job as a bank clerk and then joined the Manchester Guardian before settling in London. He attracted notice by such volumes of poetry as Salt Water Ballads, but fame and notoriety came with the verse narrative of a drunkard's conversion The Everlasting Mercy, which shocked critics with its strong, often vulgar, colloquial tone. He wrote other long narrative poems, a form which he revived in England with some success, including The Widow in the Bye Street (1912), The Daffodil Fields (1913), and Dauber (1913), an epic poem of personality conflicts at sea. Reynard the Fox records a fox hunt and is notable for its Chaucerian character vignettes.

Masefield's versatility is shown in his lyrics and other short poems, including the well known ‘Sea Fever’ in Ballads (1903), Lollingdon Downs (1917), Sonnets of Good Cheer (1926), and in his dramas and novels. Among his energetic and thrilling novels are Odtaa (1926), The Bird of Dawning (a swift-moving story of the tea clippers) (1933), The Taking of the Gry (1934), The Country Scene (1937), and Badon Parchments (1947). Other works include: studies of Shakespeare (1911), J M Synge (1915), and John Ruskin (1920); Gallipoli (1916); The Old Front Line (1917); Nine Days' Wonder (1941) (about Dunkirk); Sea Life in Nelson's Time (1905); the novels Jim Davis (1911) and Sard Harker (1924); and the play The Tragedy of Nan (1908). Collected Poems was first published in 1923.


Masefield, John

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