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Roadways

[John Masefield (1878-1967)]

Steeleye Span sang John Masefield' poem Roadways on their 2019 CD Est'd 1969. They noted:

To use the metaphor chosen by John Masefield in this poem from 1910, we all search for our roadway in life… although it could be said to be less metaphorical, and more literal, for us wandering musicians…

Orphaned at a young age, Masefield spent most of his childhood lost in books before heading off to sea whilst only in his early teenage years. He continued reading and writing throughout his time as a sailor, becoming an award-winning poet and many of his celebrated works relate to his time at sea. Despite his almost utopian view of life at sea expressed in the words here, he had actually deserted ship on his final voyage some 15 years before writing it, which makes Roadways all the more romantic to me.

Lyrics

John Masefield's poem Roadways Steeleye Span sing Roadways

One road leads to London,
One road leads to Wales.
My road leads me seawards,
To the white dipping sails.

One road leads to London,
One road leads to Wales.
My road leads me seawards,
To the white dipping sails.

One road leads to the river,
As it goes singing slow;
My road leads to shipping,
Where the bronzed sailors go.

One road leads to the river,
As it goes singing slow;
My road leads to shipping,
Where the bronzed sailors go.

Leads me, lures me, calls me,
To salt green tossing sea;
A road without earth’s road dust,
Is the right road for me

Chorus:
Leads me, lures me, calls me,
To the salt green tossing sea;
A road without earth’s road dust,
Is the right road for me

A wet road heaving, shining,
And wild with seagulls’ cries,
A mad, salt sea-wind blowing
The salt spray in my eyes.

A wet road heaving, shining,
Wild with seagulls’ cries,
A mad, salt sea-wind blowing
The salt spray in my eyes.

My road calls me, lures me,
West, east, south and north;
Most roads lead men homewards,
My road leads me forth.

To add more miles to the tally
Of grey miles left behind,
In quest of that one beauty
I was put here to find.

(Chorus)

To add more miles to the tally
Of grey miles left behind,
In quest of that one beauty
God put me here to find.

My road calls me, lures me,
West, east, south and north;
Most roads lead men homewards,
My road leads me forth.

(Chorus)