Friday, August 14, 2009

Sea Fever, a poem by John Masefield.

John Masefield was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire, in 1878. His mother Caroline died giving birth to his sister when Masefield was only 6 and he then went to live with his aunt. His father George died soon after. Masefield spent the years 1891 to 1895 at sea and worked in a carpet factory after he came ashore. His first poetry collection, Salt Water Ballads, was published in 1902 when he was 24. In 1912, he was awarded the annual Edmund de Polignac prize for poetry. In 1930, a new Poet Laureate was needed and many felt that Rudyard Kipling was a likely choice. However, upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, King George V appointed Masefield, who remained in office until his death in 1967. The only person to remain in the office for a longer period was Alfred Lord Tennyson. After his appointment, Masefield received many honors, including the Order of Merit. He was also the recipient of many honorary degrees from Universities throughout the United Kingdom, and in 1937 he was elected President of the Society of Authors. He believed that, “Poetry is a mixture of common sense, which not all have, with an uncommon sense, which very few have.”

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 gray 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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