by John Masefield
Year of Publication:
Quinquireme - A Roman war ship with five banks of oars. The story goes that at the beginning of the Punic Wars (with Carthaginians) the Romans had no navy, but soon realized that without a navy they would never be the dominant power in the Mediterranean. As it happens during the second Punic War of 260 BC, a Carthaginian quinquireme was beached on Roman soil, thus it fell into the hands Romans. They carefully copied the parts of the ship and in less than six weeks had built one hundred of their own.
Ophir - This ancient country was first mentioned in the Bible: Kings, ix. Its actual location is unknown but assumed somewhere in Asia minor.
Type - Probably Tynemouth located east of Newcastle England. Noted for shipbuildling and repair yards.
Trade spreads civilization
Things to Discuss:
The poem describes different types of ships. Describe each one. What is ommitted in the first line of each stanza? What else is unusual about each stanza? Scansion the first and second lines in each stanza is it the same for every stanza? What type of rhyme describes the second and fifth lines? What are some of the sensory descriptive words used by the poet?
About the Poet:
Masefield took to the sea early in life. In America, he worked as a barkeeper and dishwasher in Greenwich Villae. In Yonkers he worker in a carpet factory. Finally, he made his way back to England and devoted himself to writing. He became Poet Laureate of England. He was the champion of the "scorned- the rejected" men hemmed in "by their own spears."