Sea Fever by John Masefield

Poetry gives substance to our experiences, as if to help us understand the import of a specific time and place.  Words assimilate with emotional responses to produce memories that can be recalled with a vibrant clarity.   Listening to poetry we relive the moment again.

Several years ago, my son and I walked along the sandy beach of Wells-next-the-Sea.  One of the first poems that he recited as a young child was Sea Fever by John Masefield.  Sea Fever is on my favourite list.  I especially identify with:  “And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover.”  In the end, it is our connections with friends and family that make life extraordinary.

Many thanks to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley who walked with us along the Wells-next-the-Sea Beach. This was a very special day of friendship and storytelling.

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.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Lifestyle Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

39 thoughts on “Sea Fever by John Masefield

    1. I agree, Margaret – a marvelous poem. Many thanks for joining me in reciting Sea Fever. I just found a collection of John Masefield’s poetry. What a treasure trove of poetry. I especially liked, Trade Winds. I felt I was on the islands feeling the “cool and pleasant breeze.”

      In the harbour, in the island, in the Spanish Seas,
      Are the tiny white houses and the orange-trees,
      And day-long, night-long, the cool and pleasant breeze
      Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

      There is the red wine, the nutty Spanish ale,
      The shuffle of the dancers, the old salt’s tale,
      The squeaking fiddle, and the soughing in the sail
      Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

      And at nights there’s fire-flies and the yellow moon,
      And in the ghostly palm-trees the sleepy tune
      Of the quiet voice calling me, the long low croon
      Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Superb recitation, Rebecca, as your recitations always are. I vaguely knew of this poem but hadn’t known who wrote it. So it was off to Google to learn more about John Masefield. Thank you for the continuing education!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many thanks, Dave for your heartwarming comments. I always thought that John Masefield was a poet! But he authored 12 novels from 1924 – 1939 which were based on Christian themes. Did you read that there was a ban on the performance of of plays on biblical subjects. YIKES!! And then there was his modesty. I found it poignant that he would include a stamped and self-addressed envelop when he submitted his poem for publication – just in cast it was not accepted.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Our dear friend Rebecca,
    thank you so much for mentioning us in your post. We love to remember your visit and our little trip to Well next the Sea to the beach that became famous because the last scene of the film “Shakespeare in Love” was filmed there. Great pictures you took! They go perfectly well together with the poem.
    With love ❤ ❤
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    P.S.: Our address is: The Fab Four of Cley (with an e)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a great day that was, Klausbernd! Thomas and I walked the length of the beach reciting this poem. Of course, our voices were drowned out the the sounds of ocean and wind, but that is how it should be. You live in a beautiful area! I enjoy following Hanne-Dina’s photos on Instagram as well as the National Trust – Norfolk Coast Instagram which posts her stunning images of seal pups of Blakeney Point. The address has been changed – love spell check, don’t you? Sending hugs and love to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley!!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, dear Shey, for your lovely comments. I am hoping that more people recite poetry. Words given voice add emotional vibrancy. I read that John Masefield organized Oxford Recitations in 1923, and then become a founding member in 1924 of the Scottish Association for the Speaking of Verse, which is now a registered charity that runs a series of monthly poetry readings. I must look them up!! I wonder if they recite William McGonagall!! If not, we MUST!!!! Sending hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted you joined me to look out on the ocean to the horizon that seems to go on forever. I just found a collection of poetry by John Masefield. I am looking into a narrative poem, Reynard The Fox. I continue to learn and learn and learn…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. How wonderful to reading your encouraging comments. All is well – I feel spring is knocking at the door with the warming showers of rain that will be with us in the coming week. John Masefield continues to surprise me. I just found out that, in the 1920’s when he family settled on Boar’s Hill, close to Oxford, he took up beekeeping, goat-heading and poultry-keeping. No wonder he was inspired to write poetry.


    1. I am grateful for you support and encouragement of poetic endeavours, Colleen. What was so interesting about John Masefield is that he used poetry to connect with others and with himself. In his early years, he lived as a vagrant, drifting between old jobs. He had an epiphany when we read the poem, “The Piper of Arll” by Duncan Campbell Scott.

      Ten years later he wrote to Scott:

      “I had never (till that time) cared very much for poetry, but your poem impressed me deeply, and set me on fire. Since then poetry has been the one deep influence in my life, and to my love of poetry I owe all my friends, and the position I now hold.”

      Isn’t is wonderful that we can inspire each other, without knowing.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Rebecca, your video rendition of the poem Sea Fever is mesmerizing. The visuals are beautiful and the music a perfect pairing for your spoken word recitation of Masefield’s poem. I’m glad you posted this for us.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many many thanks for your support and encouragement of poetry recitation, Babsje. My hope is that others will experience reading poetic words aloud. For me, it is a meditative experience. I find respite in the words. What I didn’t know about John Masefield was the he was into narrative poems, which I am going to look into in the coming weeks.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh yes, POETRY! I found nature poetry in my late twenties and love it! Oh how it resonates with me and this one just nails how I feel when I miss the sea and need to spend some time on its shores.

    Your reading was wonderful and the sounds of the gulls and the sight of the waves rolling in was just lovely. I could almost smell the sea! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me on the beach to recite John Masefield’s Sea Fever. You would be very interested to know that in 1894, Masefield boarded the Gilcruix destined for Chile. I understand that he was seasick most of the sailing which experienced extreme weather conditions. But he was delighted by seeing flying fish, porpoises and birds. He was awed by the beauty of nature. He even saw a nocturnal rainbow. What an adventure.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It must have been an amazing voyage! I’ve been sea sick once it was awful! I was fine sailor and never experienced it before then one whale sighting trip the captain starting spinning the boat to follow the whale and that made me seasick. I’ll never sail with her again. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. What I didn’t know when I first came upon this poem (Don introduced Sea Fever to me) was that John Masefield, was the UK’s second longest serving poet laureate (37 years) after Tennyson who served for 42 years.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I have been looking in John Masefield’s bio and found more of his poem under the book entitled, “Sea Fever. What I did not know is he is considered one of the great storytellers of English poetry!! Many thanks for joining me in reciting Sea Fever, Marie! Very must appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My experience watching the beautiful ocean and shore line pass by brought visons full of beauty. I really enjoyed the long look out into the waves as they rolled into shore, sometimes quiet, other times rolling frantically pushed by the wind. The glimpse of the mountain with its peaks to the left was a surprise as was the far away shoreline The long ripples in the sand made by the wind and water have no end. The little white specks of the water birds enjoying the water far out made this vision complete!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bravo, Rebecca, and I echo Dave Astor’ comments of learning more of this poet, as harbours and seas, were once part of my life, a lifetime ago. Thank you dear friend for awakening treasures old memories, with your ever searching out subjects and topics of notable interest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your heartwarming comments, Jean-Jacques. Your time at sea much as been extraordinary. I think of the quote by Herman Broch: “Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.”


  7. Oh, my goodness! What a beautiful reading! This is one of my all-time favorite poems. When i went off to college in Indiana, I knew that I would miss the sea. I bought a plaque with this poem and a picture of the sea. I also bought some little wooden seagulls that were on wire. I placed this plaque and the seagulls by my desk. ‘Sea Fever’ is beyond any shadow of a doubt, my favorite poem about the sea. Hearing you read it, was such a joy! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this recitation, Linda. I love how you brought the sea to Indiana! John Masefield would be pleased that he inspired your creativity. When I read you comments, I wondered whether there was a recitation by John Masefield.
      I found it!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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