I am looking for a poem I once memorized. I know the first line is "I must go down to the sea again"
I think it continues, "To the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship. and a star to steer her by."
If anyone knows who wrote it and/ or where I can find it, I would appreciate the help.
Well, sometimes we are our own best help. I discovered "phrase searches"
This is "Sea-Fever" by John Masefield I include the text below for the interested.
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 gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray 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.
Here is a link to this and other works by Poet Laureate John Masefield:
This was always a great favourite of mine - probably one of the first poems that I learnt by heart.
I have always been interested in the fact that the first line is published by respectable sources in two different ways, either:
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky
I beleive the Masefield Society itself has had some thoughts on this and it was discussed in volume 2 of their journal.
My personal view is that the version without 'go' scans better but that may simply be that it was this version that I learned by heart!
And of course you will have noticed how the 's' gets dropped from 'seas' to make another popular variant (this thread title, for example).
I have known this poem like forever. In those wonderful years of childhood, I did not always attend school but spent days and sometimes weeks on a tiny 90 ton coal-burning steamship which had a regular run carrying produce to and from about a dozen ports within a 100 miles of my home. My uncle was first mate, and he insisted I learn the ship and seamanship and take on duties as though a member of the crew, (not that I needed any urging). It was a wonderful education for a 10 year old boy.
I recall one time my uncle asked me to write down the name of every item about a ship, learn what it was, and be sure I could tell him if he asked what is a f'c's'le or a binnacle or a marlin spike or whatever. That is where I struck a problem with Masefield's "Sea Fever" and in particular the line "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" What was 'a star to steer her by' ? Was it another name for the wheel or the rudder or some other gadget to keep the ship on course? I dismissed a star in the sky as a possibility until, after expressing my ignorance, my uncle set me on course and taught me celestial navigation! I have never forgotten the night sky since then nor have I forgotten "Sea Fever"!
Thank you all for your responses. I enjoyed hearing that I am not the only one who, having learned this poem in childhood, loved it still.
I think this is by John Masefield.
I loved this story. Thanks for sharing it. I'll bet your uncle would have liked Hopkin's "Pied Beauty."