The main point of this post is to share John Masefield’s wonderful poem: “Sea Fever”. It describes my need to get into water as often as possible, although I prefer swimming in a lake or reservoir to the ocean, I do love soaking in natural mineral springs, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and other water activities and consider this my favorite of all the wonderful things to do in life. I felt prompted to begin this post and awesome poem with a whimsical photo of my grand-kids pretending to be out to sea! Ahhh, to live in the imaginative world of childhood!
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.
From SALT-WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, by John Masefield, published by the Maxmillan Co., NY, © 1913, p. 55; the poem was first published in SALT-WATER BALLADS, © 1902.
There has been much debate over the first line and it is indeed “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky;” “go down to the seas” was a poetic way of saying going sailing and did not refer to any specific body of water, similarly “the lonely sea” was simply talking about open water rather than a specific sea.
Masefield’s use of the word “trick” indicates a period of duty on a specific task such as handling the wheel or lookout.