Poem 7: Sea Fever

This week's poem is inspired by a wonderful weekend spent exploring the coast near my little house in St Bees. Due to the rather dark and busy winter, I haven't been down to the sea for quite a long time, and going back to it was rather special. Those of you who have lived near the sea yourselves probably know the strange feeling of knowing it is there, waiting for you, and the much romanticised feeling of longing to go to it.
I love watching the sea. I could watch it for hours. I recently learned of a photographer, Hiroshi Sugumoto, who famously photographed empty seascapes, partly as an exploration of time. Much as astrophysicists take photographs of stars which died thousands of years ago, Sugumoto felt that an empty seascape shows a glimpse of the past, as the image has remained the same. I like the idea of the sea being permanent, but the idea of its being unchanging is a strange one. Every time I go to the sea, it looks different. Every time a wave comes in, it is a unique wave.
While I have been writing even these short paragraphs, my head has been whirling with images and references about the sea. I suppose it is part of living on an island that it has become rather an important part of our culture. I suspect this will not be the last post of the subject of the sea. But for now, please enjoy John Masefield's Sea Fever.

Sea Fever
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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