image of Clipper Ship
Clipper Ship


John Masefield wrote Sea Fever, his famous poem in the early years of the 20th century.


image of John Masefield
John Masefield


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.


image of HMS Conway ex Nile c.1890
HMS Conway ex Nile c.1890


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.


image of tallship


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.


Yachting image of Eleonora off Cowes
Eleonora off Cowes