Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sea Fever

by John Masefield

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.


* * *

Many apologies for the long hiatus in blogging. I'm undergoing a big transition between college life, which ended this spring, and the life of a teacher, which starts in the fall. And I'm spending the transition time trying to write a novel ... so you can see how a few things got put on hold for awhile ... Anyway, I'm sorry and here's something to start us up again.

I love this poem and have been meaning to post it for a long time. It sounds a little Tolkienesque, though it probably came before Tolkien. (I don't actually know a thing about John Masefield; does anyone else?) I suppose Masefield had the same Anglo-Saxon inspirations as Tolkien did. I can really see the roots of this poem in the Old English poem "The Seafarer"--how the sea calls you out on it (although this poem leaves out the miserable, cold, exiled imagery of the older poem). I also notice the Anglo-Saxon rhythms and kennings like "gull's way" and "whale's way." The stressed syllables at the end of many lines ("white sail's shaking") make for a very pleasant and stirring rhythm.

I'm planning another poem-writing contest soon, one more difficult than before. If any of you are up to writing a longer poem in a strict form, break out your quill pens and check back within the next week.

2 comments:

worldwarii said...

A nice poem Sheila--also thanks for bringing the previous poem to my attention--I had never seen it before.

What's the novel about?

James

Meredith said...

This was my favorite poem when I was ten or eleven. I knew only the first verse, for it was printed on the "Seaman's Card" they gave me at Hyde Street Pier, in San Francisco, when our class spent a day and a night on the C.A. Thayer. It was the first of two times I've been on a tall ship, and I still hope once in a while that I'll be able to make another, longer voyage.

And may you bring that novel safely into port one of these days!