John Masefield is best know for his memorable lines in Sea Fever:
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by . . .”
Masefield, though, was equally at home on land. Night is on the Downland stands by itself, never-the-less, you can dive into the discussions here:
I’ve been through the moors in Britain although in broad daylight in a heat wave. They did not look spooky without dark or fog. As I understand it, though, the moors are considered upland, not downland.
I’d resist too much dissection, however, too much analyzing. Remember Eliot’s admonition in Prufrock (internal link), “And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin . . .”
I can’t find any good reading, perhaps since the work may still be under copyright.
Night is on the Downland reminds me of Jim Morrison’s poetry.
Night is on the Downland
John Masefield (1878 -1967)
Night is on the downland, on the lonely moorland,
On the hills where the wind goes over sheep-bitten turf,
Where the bent grass beats upon the unplowed poorland
And the pine-woods roar like the surf.
Here the Roman lived on the wind-barren lonely,
Dark now and haunted by the moorland fowl;
None comes here now but the peewit only,
And moth-like death in the owl.
Beauty was here in on this beetle-droning downland;
The thought of a Caesar in the purple came
From the palace by the Tiber in the Roman townland
To this wind-swept hill with no name.
Lonely Beauty came here and was here in sadness,
Brave as a thought on the frontier of the mind,
In the camp of the wild upon the march of madness,
The bright-eyed Queen of the Blind.
Now where Beauty was are the wind-withered gorses,
Moaning like old men in the hill-wind’s blast;
The flying sky is dark with running horses,
And the night is full of the past.
Part of The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) by Jim Morrison and The Doors
Some call it heavenly in its brilliance
Others, mean and rueful of the Western dream
I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft
We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping
This is the land where the Pharaoh died
The Negroes in the forest brightly feathered
They are saying, “forget the night
Live with us in forests of azure
Out here on the perimeter there are no stars
Out here we is stoned, immaculate”
Part of Stoned Immaculate by Jim Morrison and The Doors
One summer night, going to the pier
I ran into two young girls
The blonde one was called Freedom
The dark one, Enterprise
We talked and they told me this story
Now listen to this…