John Masefield

John Masefield

Biography of John Masefield

John Masefield was born on June 1,1878. He was a British poet who also held the esteemed position of Poet Laureate from 1930-1967. A Poet Laureate is a person appointed by the government to compose poems for special events and various occasions. That person also brings awareness and appreciation to the art of poetry.

Masefield's father died when he was young, forcing him to live with an uncle. During his younger years Masefield wanted to be a merchant marine officer. This interest led him to being trained on the Conway, which was a ship meant for training. He boarded this ship at the age of thirteen. Once his training was complete two and a half years later, he boarded a sailing ship set for Chile. It was on this voyage that he became ill and had to return to England.

His time as sea came to an end, and he spent time in the United States working in a carpet factory. His autobiography, In the Mill, published in 1941, was based on this time period.

In 1897, Masefield returned to England in hopes of pursuing a career as a writer, which started out at a newspaper. Masefield is best known for his poems of the sea and his long narrative poems. His first volume of poems, Salt Water Ballads, was published in 1902.

During Masefield's later years, he received a handful of awards:

  • Royal Society of Literature's Companion of Literature
  • William Foyle Poetry Prize
  • Award from National Book League

John Masefield died on May 12, 1967.

Interesting Facts about John Masefield

  1. The only person to hold the Poet Laureate position longer than him was Lord Alfred Tennyson.
  2. During World War I, Masefield served with the Red Cross.
  3. Masefield wrote a lot about his time at sea, fox hunting, racing, and life outdoors


Poems by John Masefield

Sea Fever By John Masefield

in Famous Nature Poems

Sea Fever

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 gray dawn breaking. ...

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