Monday, 1 June 2009

Circumnavigation and the poetry of Masefield

A friend, who is a user of and enthusiast for cochlear implants, has put me on to the blog of John Newton. He is totally deaf but had a cochlear implant 6 months ago. A former round the world sailor, mostly single-handed, he has just embarked on a circumnavigation of the coast of Britain.

I was immediately struck by the first line of his latest entry: "Six days shalt thou labour and do all that thou art able/And on the seventh day holystone the decks and overhaul the cable", which is one of my favourite couplets by John Masefield. Mr Newton does not attribute it, and I remember the last phrase slightly differently, so perhaps Masefield was himself quoting from fellow-sailors. (Masefield had run away to sea at the age of thirteen before settling in London six years later and starting the career which was to lead to the laureateship.)

Can anyone help with the exact lines and the poem they appear in?

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