I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and 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 gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking.
I must 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 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.
NOTE: John Masefield was born in 1878 in Ledbury, Herefordshire and died in 1967. “The Sea-Fever” is one of his better known poems although modern readers might bemoan the missing verb “go” from the phrase “I must down to the seas again…” as Masfield wrote a series of poems about sailors in their natural colloquial style. The poem is presented here as an intellectual interlude and stimulant for the wary traveler of cyberspace where so much nonsense is spread across the digital highway like silicon graffiti. Take a breath, man, read.
The photograph is a painting by John Stobart.