John Masefield (1878-1967): Big Pond Quinsy


Sea Fever

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.
    I must go down and all I ask
    is a tall ship and a star
I must go back to what’s briny, just big sky and a briny splat,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to point it at,
A hub swinging round, a wind-humming sound, and a snowy sailcloth shaking,
A briny phiz that’s hazily gray, and a gray dawn waking.
I must go back to what’s briny, for that calling of flux and flow
Is a wild call and a loud call, to which you don’t say no;
And all I ask is a windy day with cotton-wool clouds flying,
With flung spray and with blown foam, and gulls and fulmars crying.
I must go back to what’s briny, now! to my vagrant gypsy way, sir,
To a gull’s way and an orca’s way, and a wind as sharp as a razor;
And all I ask is a jolly yarn from a laughing amigo-in-roving,
And a tranquil nap with visions of pap, as my shiftwork clock stops moving.
Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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