Since the printing press …, poetry has ceased to be the delight of the whole community of man; it has become the amusement and delight of the few.
– John Masefield
Sadly, one could expand on Masefield’s observation about the printing press and include television (and the iPhone) which was not around in 1912 when Masefield published Salt-Water Poems and Ballads, which contains Sea Fever, one of his most beloved poems.
“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.”
The discerning Stressless man or woman is a poet at heart and a sea-faring sort. The empty chairs tell us that both of them have gone down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy’s life.
Thanks to the internet, you can find more poetry at the Poetry Foundation.
In this day of fast cars and jet planes, does anyone know what it means to be at the will of the wind and the sea? Poetically, John Masefield sets us asail.
Interesting that Masefield speaks of the seas, plural. For he understood that, from time immemorial, man’s destiny was to set sail and adventure into the unknown – a human need expressed by the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Vikings, the Spanish and the Portuguese, and certainly by the Polynesians who sailed into the vast Pacific Ocean for thousands of miles on balsa rafts aided only by their intuitive powers.
That is faith.
Now, I have a dilemma. Do I play on my iPod, Enya’s Sail Away, or Christopher Cross’s Sailing?