Fox; and I end with a chapter on his narrative prose.
Though his dramatic works have undoubtedly played a large part in the poet’s growth as a teller of stories, I do not take them into account here, and this advisedly, since, as the poet himself insists, he has no talent for play writing. I do not think the plays have lasting value or will enjoy a revival, in the sense that the three narrative poems I have just mentioned are assured of a permanent place in the history of English Literature. And it would be outside the scope of this book to bring the type of criticism to bear on these plays which drama demands. For like reason many excellent and valuable books, as I am told, but of which I am not myself competent to judge, are not discussed here – such books as Agriculture in the Colonies and My Faith in Women’s Suffrage among many others. And for this reason I have not dealt fully with the war histories, though it should be observed that Masefield’s prose is always, whatever purpose it is adapted to, a joy to read. And, when he is writing, as in the war histories, of national events on the grand scale, there are times when he seems inspired to interpret the function of laureate in a higher manner than that revealed by his state-occasion verses which appear now and then in the newspapers.
In fact, what I am concerned with in this book represents only a fraction of John Masefield’s work; and my excuse is, that I am looking for two things: the best work and the narrative art. Almost invariably the two things coincide.