Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

The Century's Finest Poet


I saw the ramparts of my native land
One time so strong, now dropping in decay,
Their strength destroyed by this new age's way
That has worn out and rotted what was grand.
I went into the fields; there I could see
The sun drink up the waters newly thawed;
And on the hills the moaning cattle pawed,
Their miseries robbed the light of day for me.

I went into my house; I saw how spotted,
Decaying things made that old home their prize;
My withered walking-staff had come to bend.
I felt the age had won; my sword was rotted;
And there was nothing on which to set my eyes
That was not a reminder of the end.

This year marks 40 since the passing of one of the century's finest writers - one of the few our era can bestow to posterity without shame or embarrassment. Unlike so many authors since the blunder of Modernism, he didn't spend his career in a kind of arrested adolescence, tinkering and playing in public, producing effects through sophistic trivialities, or in the kind of critic-friendly work that holds an appeal only when considered conceptually. He plunged into the heart of literature: he didn't try and rationalise from the outside what might be good (an activity, like its brother socialism, that has never worked, and is responsible not merely for Stalin, but for nearly all bad poetry too). No, he wrote with reference to his heart, to his instinctive taste, and to the truth of God and the beauty of God's creation; and wrote, and wrote, and was victorious. He is responsible for two charming books for the young, two general novels, and a kind of poetry that overturns one's stomach with its excellence.

His name was John Masefield. He was Poet Laureate. Few remember him. A pretty decent Selected Poems is now available. Do read it. (See Gutenberg for some of his work online, too).


Beaverbrook said...

That heartfelt poem is just as apt for today. The best ones are always timeless.

Anonymous said...

I generally prefer an overturning of the larynx, but the stomach will certainly do.

Perhaps another mother has given him birth?


Scott said...

I feel myself dissolving at some of his lines. The sentiment and subject matter is so completely perfect: felt, valorous, dignified, emotional, elegiac, vigorous, affectionate, manly, sober, intoxicated, hurt, cold and alive, all at once.

He's also written some very funny modern mock-epics. (See 'Right Royal').