Columbia Library columns (v.28(1978Nov-1979May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.28,no.1(1978:Nov): Page 29  

The Masefield Centenary in England


^LTHOUGH John Masefield has been well known in the
United States, it is natural that the British people should
pay far more attention than Americans to their former
Poet Laureate during this centenary year of his birth. Both major,
city-based British newspapers and the smaller provincial ones have
printed a great deal about the .Masefield Centenary. However, the
high point of British conunemorations of Masefield was the Me¬
morial Service in Poets' Corner at ^Westminster Abbey on June i,
Masefield's looth birthday.

A small delegation of Americans representing Columbia Uni¬
versity flew to London to attend the Abbey conunemoration. The
group consisted of Kenneth A. Lohf, Librarian for Rare Books
and Manuscripts; Paul R. Palmer, Curator of Columbiana; Miss
Helen Mac Lachlan of the Friends of the Columbia Libraries and
Masefield's god-daughter; and the author of this essay.

At the Abbey ceremony there were readings from Masefield's
poetry by Sir Bernard Miles, the noted actor and founder of the
iMermaid Theatre in London; an address b)' the English poet,
Patricia Beer; and the laying of a wreath on the .Masefield stone
by Jack Masefield, nephew of the poet. As the serxice was about
to start, a silvery grey pigeon suddenly settled on .\ lasefield's stone,
and a verger had to push it away with his staff. Sir Bernard Miles
read from Masefield's earliest poetry, published in his first book,
Salt-Water Ballads, and began with the well-known "Cargoes."

Following the Abbey service. The Society of Authors held a
large reception at the impressive Fishmongers' Hall near London
Bridge. Brief speeches were made by British critic, V. S. Pritchett,
President of the National Book League, Lord Goodman, and Jack

A few days later the United States delegation drove to the beau-

  v.28,no.1(1978:Nov): Page 29