It was my boat-loving, ocean-going father who first told me about John Masefield's poem. My father is not much into poetry but I can see why he likes this one. The language is simple, yet so evocative of life at sea, and the rhythm reminds me of hours spent watching the shouldering of waves and feeling the lift, surge and fall of the boat underneath me. It is thanks to my father's passion for sailing that I now love the ocean, feel at home when I'm near it, and long to protect it from our insanity.
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.
~ John Masefield