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John Masefield looks landward

John Masefield, who became Britain's poet laureate in 1930, is best known for his poem ``I must go down to the sea again.'' It was published in ``Salt-Water Ballads'' (1902). He wrote, ``My first book of verses, written mainly in six exciting weeks, consisted chiefly of ballads expressing a longing for fresh air.'' He was trained for the merchant navy but deserted ship in New York, writing poetry in a rented room in Yonkers while doing odd jobs. Another of the ``Salt-Water Ballads'' is printed below. ``The West Wind'' sniffs land rather than sea breezes, as a homesick sailor might. It's a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries; I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes. For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills, And April's in the west wind, and daffodils. It's a fine land, the west land, for hearts as tired as mine, Apple orchards blossom there, and the air's like wine. There is cool green grass there, where men may lie at rest, And the thrushes are in song there, fluting from the nest. ``Will you not come home, brother? you have been long away, It's April, and blossom time, and white is the spray; And bright is the sun, brother, and warm is the rain, - Will you not come home, brother, home to us again? The young corn is green, brother, where the rabbits run, It's blue sky, and white clouds, and warm rain and sun. It's song to a man's soul, brother, fire to a man's brain, To hear the wild bees and see the merry spring again. Larks are singing in the west, brother, above the green wheat, So will ye not come home, brother, and rest your tired feet? I've a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes,'' Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries. It's the white road westwards is the road I must tread To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head, To the violets and the brown brooks and the thrushes' song, In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong.

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