I recently set a personal goal of reading one poem per day, and yesterday’s reading was “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield. I’d never read this poem, and I was astonished when I read the opening lines. I’ve hear them quoted so many times without knowing where they came from and I’m a little ashamed that I never sought to find out. Here it is in its entirety, dedicated to all my family and friends who have gone to sea:




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.


John Masefield