Like most schools, mine had inter-house competitions. One year, it fell to me to be House Captain of Music because I was the oldest boy who could play the clarinet. The Housemaster chose the Captain on age, not on ability. Every boy had to sing in the choir, and the performance piece chosen was John Ireland’s setting of Sea Fever by the poet laureate at the time, John Masefield.
Everyone had to sing, from the few with treble voices to the tuneless late-teen tough-guy growlers. We learned about melding music and words, how to enunciate ‘whetted knife’ as if you were cut by a cold wind; how to sound the sibilants to suggest gale and spray and how to prolong the final word – over. The poem was ended, but the feeling and atmosphere lingered on. [Read more…] about Forgotten Letters of John Masefield