Poetry Sunday: Sea Fever by John Masefield

John Masefield was an English poet born in 1878. He was poet laureate from 1930 until his death in 1967. This is one of his most famous poems. I love the rhythm of it. It may be best read out loud to appreciate that rhythm. See if it does not evoke for you the lonely sea and sky and the image of tall ships. Enjoy!   

Sea Fever

by John Masefield

I must 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
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
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the
long trick’s over.


  1. I had not read this for years, Dorothy. I have spent a fair amount of time at sea, so it evokes memories for me. Thanks for another great Sunday selection,

    1. I remember it from high school. It was always easy to remember because of the cadence of the rhythm.

  2. I love this poem so much. The rhythm draws me like the sea.

    1. I think he captured the rhythm of the sea with the rhythm of his words.

  3. I remember reading this poem long ago. I only go as far as the water's edge in real life; I suffer terribly from seasickness, and motion sickness medicine either puts me to sleep or makes me nauseous.

    1. I mostly watch the sea from the shore as well. I find the rhythm of the waves hypnotic.

  4. his novels are pretty good also, usually having, of course, to do with the ocean and sailing... "Dead Ned" and "Live and Kicking Ned" are two that i enjoyed...

    1. I can't recall that I have actually ever read any of his books. I did read and enjoy Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series several years ago so maybe I would enjoy Masefield's sea novels as well.

  5. I hate to say that until today I've never heard this poem but I love it!

    1. Well, I'm glad I was able to introduce it to you.


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