To celebrate the centenary of the birth of John Masefield, Heinemann has published a new book of his poetry, Selected Poems (£5.90), prefaced, although possibly not selected, by Sir John Betjeman. It is a nice-looking book, not quite the dark blue we remember from our school prize volumes, but with a feeling of spaciousness given by large margins, sadly belied by the very small print.
The old favourites are here with all the memories of partyrecitations and pre-adolescent yearnings for freedom and the gipsy life. The long narrative poems, with their insistent rhythm and rhymes and strong story lines, are also well represented: but my favourite, "The Daffodil Fields," is missing.
Masefield can still grab the reader and lead him with reluctant curiosity through the intricacies of the plot, pausing on the way to appreciate the exact and loving observation of country and seascape.
Masefield was nearly 90 when he died. Much of his work as Laureate was laboured. as one supposes it must almost always be, but this collection will reward the conscien clout reader with passages of lyric beauty,
The poet's early association with Yeats is not without its subtle influence. As .Sir John Betieman writes in his brief introduction, "goo Jdn "goodness shone pi aa out D. Paradise Illustrated Illustrated in the Phoenix Living Poets series of the Hogarth Press at £2.50 develops this poet's ironic themes. Milton retold by Torn Lehrer? Not quite that Enright's wpereyl edh upmu onsu rrevsepaiclseda dweeitph For the human condition, "Tsaciutirnnnceed out of Paradise,": "goodness shone pi aa out
Why didn't we think of clothes before? Asked Adam, Removing Eve's.
Why did we ever think of clothes? ' Asked Eve, Laundering Adam's.
Enright combines a cheerful pessimism regarding original sin with good-natured irony at mankind's rejection of Redemption: " 'I knew this would happen' said God." To see this as "comic would perhaps be myopic. verse is subtle and witty, with the occasional provoking parody of Miltonic inversion.
There is plenty to think about in this collection of verse. not just ritSt disobedience". but the tensions and perversities of the human race struggling for happinBersisa. ner.Lfoouss it d se pe :ariecuex iv ,s, susreviedale. d Poems, published by Outposts at £1.50, covers his work over 22 years. A pre-"rnovement" poet, he has a richness of imagery drawn front his Christian background and, powerfully, from his early experiences ie. the Second World War and the threatened society it heralded: a large concern for the _aspirations of the individual in that society permeates his work as well as a nostalgic use of topographical subjects.
As a Londoner, he draws inspiration from locality and the cultural life of :the city, and his religious faith (he is an elder of the United Reformed Church) gives a poignancy to his verse which has a refreshing directness, especially in the series of poems on trees.