I must go down to the sea

When I was in 6th grade, we had to memorize poetry.  The only two poems I recall are The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (of which I can still recite all twelve lines of the first two stanzas) and Sea Fever by John Masefield (of which I can only recite the title and first line).  I admit I “memorized”  Sea Fever in the 10 minutes before I was slated to go in front of the class and recite.


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.

These photos are from my recent DIY writing retreat with a couple of friends (one of whom is lucky enough to have parents who have a beautiful house in Sea Ranch on the coast of California in Sonoma County not too far from the Mendocino County line). NOTE:  I did not take a photo of the actual house, but when you see the picture of the deer, that was taken from the dining room of said house.

Those of you who did not grow up near the ocean may not understand, but for me, returning to the sea every now and again, is rejuvenating.  Not just for my skin (that is getting dried out in the desert air) but for my soul…  there’s something about the salt smell, the sound, and feeling of the ocean, the waves crashing on shore like the heart beat of the earth.  So yeah. I must go down to the sea…   often.

One thought on “I must go down to the sea

  1. I memorized that poem in the sixth grade, too! NYC. Same curriculum different cities/states and different years or decades when we memorized it. Glad we were exposed to good stuff! I noticed it’s “wheel’s turn” and all these decades I thought it was “wheels turn.” Didn’t know what I didn’t know. Doubt it matters.

    Geography, though, does matter. When I leave a city, I feel snarky. You skin shouts when you are away from the sea too long. I am lucky that I can choose my geographical location. How amazing is that? Having choices is too precious a gift not to cherish. And then act.

    Yer pal,
    in stifling humid Atlanta


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