The tumult and the shouting dies, the critics and their bards depart; John Masefield remains, one of the few who carry on the high tradition of English poetry, a great poet by virtue of a great soul. In his fiftieth year his poems and plays have been collected as The Collected Works of John Masefield, in four volumes, making it easier to arrive at some estimate of the literary achievement of an unusually varied career. In these books there is nothing weak nor petty. We have the lyric vigor and rude mirth of the early Salt Water Ballads, with the sailor's yearning for the sea and the loveliness of tall ships; the plays and the tragic poems, with their deep feeling for struggling humanity; Reynard the Fox, with its rich Chaucerian pictures of the English countryside; the later sonnets, with their definite philosophy and melodious charm; and always the understanding sympathy that drives out hatred and the passionate devotion of the seeker for—
God put me here to find.
Great poetry is essential truth revealed in beauty; and poetry is not an exercise for the neurotic, the lazy, nor the mentally deficient. The mind of a true poet should be as logical as that of a mathematician and as clean, vigorous, and well-trained as the body of an athlete; his observation and insight should be as unerring as that of a scientist; and his utterance, with all its graces of diction, should be as clear as that of a mountaineer or a wise child. The great poet, like the great scientist, deals not in "common sense," but in that uncommon sense of a better day. By these tests and more, John Masefield is surely of the elect.—The Outlook
Upon the publication of the complete edition of his poems and plays, I find little new to say about John Masefield. He seems to me by far the most satisfying poet of our time. In its final essence, greatness in poetry, as far as current poets are concerned, is certainly a matter of personal preference. There are those who find, in some of Masefield, swinging rhythms that