Sea Fever

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.

Summary of Sea Fever

  • Popularity of the Poem, “Sea Fever”: This poem was written by John Masefield, a great poet and English writer. ‘Sea Fever’ is one of the famous poems known for wanderlust and love for nature. It was first published in 1902 in Salt-Water Ballads. The poem speaks about a person who talks about his never-ending love for the sea. It also illustrates how he thinks of the sea as a female and urges to spend quality time with her. Its popularity, however, lies in that it deals with the phenomenon of man versus nature.
  • “Sea Fever” as a Representative of Natural world: This poem is about the poet’s affection about the beautiful sea and its creature. He desperately wants to go to the lonely sea. Therefore, he urges to have a well-built ship to sail through the melancholic sea. He asks the star to guide him throughout his journey. On his adventure, he intends to enjoy the early mist that rises from the sea along with grey dawn breaking. He wishes to capture the sight when strong winds carrying the clouds and listen to the cries of sea creatures. He wants to be carefree as a gypsy to adore the adventurous life of the sea.
  • Major Themes in “Sea Fever”: Wanderlust, adventure, and memories are the major themes of this poem. The speaker hears the calls of nature, an irresistible invitation to exploration, adventure, and jubilant life. He desires to break out of his present situation and return to the adventurous life of the sea. He simply wants a rest from the intense current environment to lead a simple life with beauties of nature. On a deeper level, the voyage can also be compared with life that is full of challenges and tribulations. Despite all the odds it brings, everyone desires to live it at its maximum.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Sea Fever”

Literary devices are tools used by writers to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes to make texts more appealing to the reader. John Mansfield has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it superb. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /i / and /a/ in “wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking”.
  2. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, ‘And I’ll ask’ is repeated in all stanzas of the poem to emphasize the point of expressing strong desire.
  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /w/ in “To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife” and the sound of /s/ in “a star to steer her by”.
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /l/ in “Is a wild call and a clear call” and the sound of /n/ in “the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking”.
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break. Instead, it continues to the next line. For example,

“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.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky”, “And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying” and “And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.”
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, ‘Windy is personified in “And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying”; ‘Yarn is personified in “And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover” and ‘Ship’ is personified in “And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. The sea symbolizes happiness and joy for the speaker.

Analysis of Poetic Devices “Sea Fever”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “sky/by” and “shaking/breaking.”
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, which continues until the end.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each having four verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful when describing the enchanting beauty of the sea or an ocean.

“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.”