Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
Carcanet has always been the place to look for considerations of purely literary and intellectual merit. Its list relies on the vision and the faith and the energy of people who care about books, and values. It is thus as rare as it is invaluable.
Frederic Raphael

Sea-Fever: Selected Poems of John Masefield

John Masefield

Edited by Philip Errington

Cover Picture of Sea-Fever: Selected Poems of John Masefield
10% off
Categories: 20th Century
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (256 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2005)
£14.95 £13.45
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • The sloop's sails glow in the sun; the far sky burns,
    Over the palm tree tops wanders the dusk,
    About the bows a chuckling ripple churns;
    The land wind from the marshes smells of musk...

    from 'Campeachy Picture'
    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.
    Table of Contents


    Introduction xv


    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


    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


    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


    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

    John Masefield
    †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 ... read more
    Philip Errington
    PHILIP W. ERRINGTON is an antiquarian book expert within the Department of Printed Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby's in London. A graduate of the University of London, he read for his BA, MA and PhD at University College. In 2000 he was appointed a visiting research fellow of the University of ... read more
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog Singapore Casket: Jee Leong Koh read more Zest in the art of living: Iain Bamforth read more Invitation to View: Peter Scupham read more Scale: Mina Gorji read more Forrest Gander on Coral Bracho: A Profile read more The Feeling Sonnets: Eugene Ostashevsky read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2022 Carcanet Press Ltd