Monday, January 3, 2011

Sea Fever - John Masefield

This poem is a fairly recent discovery for me -- I found it last autumn and I really liked it.  The author, John Masefield, was the poet laureate of the U.K. in the mid-twentieth century.  The tradition of English sea poetry is as old as English poetry itself, and this poem has a traditional feel in its meter and its use of repetition.  I find it delightfully evocative in its simplicity.

It's worth noting that the word "trick" in the last line means "task" or "period on duty".  Yes, I had to look it up!

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,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

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