Monday, April 11, 2011

Sea Fever

April is National Poetry Month.  I had intended to post several of my favorite poems throughout the month, but I seem to have gotten a bit of a late start.  Still, we must persevere.

This poem was one of my dad's favorites.  I often remember him quoting lines from it.  He had a love for all things nautical, my dad did.  Now, I don't mean cute little seashells in fake nets hanging in your bathroom.  No, I mean seafaring stuff.

He passed that on to me.  By the time I was twelve, I could tie some 50 different knots (but don't ask me to do it today), read a sextant, and throw a harpoon.  OK, it wasn't a real harpoon.  It was a long piece of bamboo, but I had the technique down pat.  We sometimes used to pretend in the back yard that he was a sea captain and I was his first mate.  I'd climb to the top of the swing set, and he'd give me orders.  I'd shout them to an imaginary crew. 

One summer, my dad and I (and my older brother until he got bored with it) sailed imaginary ships carrying imaginary cargo from Boston to San Fransisco.  Each day, we'd plot our progress on a map, and make little imaginary log entries.  I wasn't but 8 or 9, but I still remember that vividly.  My ship was named the West Wind, and my dad's was the Cutty Sark.  My brother's ship was the Flying Cloud.

Anyway, in memory of my dad, who loved the sea, I give you his favorite poem:

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.

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