It is a truth not always universally acknowledged that unfashionable poets can be rather good just as fashionable ones can be rather bad. When I was young John Masefield was about as unfashionable a poet as one could get, but what the hell, I liked him anyway; indeed, his long narrative poem ‘Reynard The Fox’ still seems to me a very readable piece. The following stanzas are excerpted from a lesser known work, ‘The Fight On The Wall’, a spirited retelling of how the doomed love affair between Lancelot and Arthur’s queen Guinevere is brought to an end when a gang of knights attempt to take the couple in flagrante.
‘O Queen,’ he said, ‘the times are over
That you and I have known.
Beloved Queen, I am your lover,
Body and bone,
Spirit and all of me, past knowing,
Most beautiful, though sin.
Now the old lovely days are going
And bad begin.
Here is the prelude to the story
That leads us to the grave.
So be it: we have had a glory
Not many have.
Though what tomorrow may discover
Be harsh to what has been,
No matter, I am still your lover
And you my queen.’