John Masefield wrote Sea Fever, his famous poem in the early years of the 20th century.
Born in 1878 Masefield was sent to a sea school for merchant navy officers at the tender age of 13 in 1891.
Called HMS Conway, it was in fact a ‘ship of the line’ from Nelson’s era moored at Liverpool. As the Nile it had seen action in the 1850’s Crimean War. He later crewed on a real tallship, called a windjammer in the 1890’s.
Sea Fever was first published as part of his collected works Salt-Water Ballads in 1902.
He was a prolific author of both novels and poetry being appointed by King George V as Poet Laureate in 1930, a post he held until his death in 1967.
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.