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Poetry Month

Before You Become a Poet, Work in a Bar: John Masefield in the Village


John Masefield, Digital ID 1663556, New York Public LibraryJohn Masefield, Digital ID 1663556, New York Public LibraryBefore he was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, John Masefield scrubbed floors in a saloon at Greenwich Avenue and Sixth Avenue in the Village.

My guess, that's good training to be a poet or a writer of any kind.

His birthday is June 1.

Here's the first part of one of his 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 grey mist on the sea's face, and
a grey dawn breaking


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Hard work and poetry

Thanks for sharing this, I loved reading the NYRB reissue of "The Box of Delights, Or, When the Wolves Were Running" last winter. It's a British classic children's fantasy novel by Masefield. I think it shows the influence of his experience in the bar and at the carpet loom in his attention to detail and love for the physical world learned through work.

Before you become a Poet...

I never thought such odd training could produce such a great poet. I really enjoyed reading "Sea Fever" as well as "The Everlasting Mercy" now i just need to find a good bar to work on my own skills.


It is interesting to hear of the poet who worked in a bar in Greenwich Village and later became a great writer. Perhaps the inspiration came from the large number of unique people that frequent such places as Greenwich Village pubs. Inspiration is more likely to come to those who are poor or in some kind of emotional turmoil, or has a vast array of unusual and interesting acquaintances. Poetry seems to evolve from one's heart. Those who are clairvoyant make good poets, as do great artists. One cannot fake inspiration, because it comes from God and a real love of humanity. Have a great summer! Geraldine Nathan

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