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The weird thing about John Masefield the Poet Laureate is that, though he was famous throughout his life for his fine verse about the sea, he couldn't be on a ship for more than two hours before he got sick.

The weird thing about John Masefield the Poet Laureate is that, though he was famous throughout his life for his fine verse about the sea, he couldn't be on a ship for more than two hours before he got sick.

Masefield discovered this as a young man when he joined the Royal Navy and had to leave after a year. However, when he took to writing, it was his poems about the sea which appealed to the judges when he won the Nobel Prize for poetry 
in 1930.

These sea poems have a special quality which creates, as you read, a feeling for the waves perceived through the mind's eye. No poet had ever done it as well before. You can get an idea of Masefield's sea magic in words if you take the poem Sea Fever and read it out loud a few times. When it comes to the last two lines of each verse the rhythm jerks into a different beat which can carry you forward with the impetus of a ship taking full sail.

Masefield was a close friend of WB Yeats and his wife, who had the unusual name for a woman, George. As a present for both of them Masefield built a model two-masted square-rigged yacht which he named "The Georgian Willie" and would become a much admired ornament in the Yeats drawing room for many years.


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