Introduction

John Edward Masefield’s poem ‘Sea Fever’ is about the poet’s adoration for the sea and the creatures that thrive there. He is keen to see the lonely sea, therefore he insists on having a well-built ship to sail through the gloomy sea. He wishes for the stars to accompany him on his journey. The poet wants to live carefree like a wanderer, enamored with the sea’s exciting existence.

About The Poet

From 1930 until 1967, John Edward Masefield OM was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. The children’s books The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, as well as the poems The Everlasting Mercy and “Sea-Fever,” are among his best-known works.

Theme Of The Poem

This poem’s key themes are wanderlust, discovery, and nostalgia. The speaker hears nature’s sounds, an enticing appeal to adventure, exploration, and a joyful existence. He want to escape his current situation and return to the exciting life of the sea. On a deeper level, the journey can be compared to a life filled with obstacles and hardships.

Stanza 1

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.

The phrase “I must go down to the seas again” opens the first verse and is repeated at the beginning of each stanza, giving the title an obvious motive. Although the poem’s focus may be described as a longing to visit the sea, it also addresses the very human need to connect with one of the universe’s most powerful natural forces. Masefield expresses genuine affection for the chaotic and gorgeous sea, comparing it to a human by referring to it as “her” and praising her “face.”

The pursuit of a sailor’s life as he requests for a ship to sail demonstrates the yearning to connect with the sea. He does not describe the sea in conventionally beautiful words; instead, he describes her as “grey” and “lonely,” implying mystery and melancholy, but yet captivating.

Stanza 2

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.

The second stanza engages all five of the body’s senses. Masefield’s descriptions make us feel as if we are standing on the beach, listening to “sea-gulls crying,” witnessing “white clouds flying,” feeling the chill of the “windy day,” and tasting the salinity of the “flung spray and blown spume” on our tongue and nostrils. The poet underlines the sea’s overwhelming lure by repeating the term “call.”

He seems to be emphasizing the sea’s simplicity, maybe in contrast to the complexity of everyday life, with the second repeated phrase “And all I ask,” as though the sea’s untamed character is something comfortingly consistent and familiar. 

Stanza 3

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 third stanza of ‘Sea Fever’ emphasizes the concept of wanderlust. Masefield describes himself as a “vagrant gypsy” who wishes for a “laughing fellow-rover.” Masefield quotes the wind in each of the poem’s three stanzas, perhaps to emphasize how ships are impacted by both man and two of nature’s most powerful forces: the sea and the wind.