Sea Stories: Sea Fever by John Masefield

John Masefield (1878 - 1967) was never much of a lover of poetry when he was young, but he did spend several years on board the HMS Conway to train for a sea-faring life. Here he heard myriad tales from the sea, and spent time reading and writing, before moving to another ship, and another...

Although John's love of the ocean's beauty and writing did not fade, his love of working at sea did. Then, when in 1895 he came across Duncan Campbell Scott's poem The Piper of Aril, he could not help but become a poet himself.

In 1902, one of his most famous poems - Sea Fever - was born:

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.

Sea Fever, which originally appeared in Salt-Water Ballards in 1902, and has been reproduced here under the Public Domain licence.

Header Image: A gull at the beach. Credit Candiix/Pixabay (CC-0)