late 1920s fad for verbs like “laught”, “reacht” and “watcht” ’.7
These are in the manuscript and all subsequent substantive editions. They add a distinctive clipped feel to the text and I have retained the author’s chosen poetic diction.
I have, in general, followed the manuscript adding corrections or changes in firstly, the American and then, the English edition. A number of substantive differences suggest this ordering. The ‘cold eye’ of Old Bennett in the first part of the poem, for example ‘reached the women through’ in both editions (and all typescripts). The manuscript clearly reads ‘searched the women through’. Old Baldy Hill’s advice to Sir Peter Bynd is concluded with the suggestion ‘Heath Wood, Sir Peter’s best to draw’. The accurate reading, from the manuscript, is ‘Heath Wood, Sir Peter, ’s best to draw’. The error originates from the typescripts. Earlier in this part of the poem Jill and Joan are ‘as bright as fresh sweet-peas’ in the manuscript and American edition. The English edition includes a typographical error reading ‘bright as as fresh sweet-peas’. White Rabbit is ‘stanch’ in the English edition and has continued to be so for every English edition until now. In America and the manuscript he is the more familiar variant ‘staunch’.
The American first edition follows the manuscript more closely than the English first. The American edition was published by Macmillan on 14 October 1919 with English publication by Heinemann two days later. The English edition is more heavily punctuated and I have tended to remove much additional punctuation. Although the typescript for Heinemann includes many – but not all – punctuation marks, these are not, necessarily, authorial. Masefield may have had greater opportunity to tweak the English setting. Did he, for example, correct proofs for Heinemann? (The dedication to the Galsworthys is, for example lacking in all textual sources except the first English edition.)
This current edition therefore reverts, largely, to the manuscript. The manuscript and American editions are lightly punctuated and this helps a freer, less staccato rhythm throughout.
Notes 1 Bodleian MSS. Eng.Poet e.116–118. 2 Bodleian. Dep.c.307. I am extremely grateful to Mr W.H. Masefield for permission to consult this material. 3 Bodleian. Dep.d.255. 4 Bodleian. Dep.d.254. 5 Bodleian. Dep.c.307. 6 Bodleian. Dep.c.337. 7 See TLS, 3 June 2005, p. 7.