The poem Sea-Fever by John Masefield, depicts a sense of urgency to return to the sea. The persona hears the call of the sea and it is a must to answer the call; it is an irresistible invitation to adventure, exploration and freedom. The persona is longing to go back to the sea and he wishes for the simplicity of life on the sea and a sense of freedom. His extremely simple desires suggest that he wants to renounce all the usual entrapments of everyday life and to rid himself of any material possesions that will hamper his journey on the sea.
The English poet Laurete of England, John Masefield is known for his 1902 collection of sea poems, sea water ballads, in which sea-fever appeared. He trained as a merchant navy cadet, went to sea at the age of only fifteen as an apprentice on a large sailing ship and after all of that, he then worked in New York City before returning back to England in the year 1987. The persona in the poem seems to be Masefield himself.
The poem is made up of three quatrains (stanzas of four lines each), each quatrain is made up of two rhyming couplets. In the poem, at the beginning of each stanza it starts with: 'I must down to the seas again', and each stanza also contains a request; 'and all I ask'. The varying lines within each staza brings to mind the irregular and repeated movement of waves rising and falling. The rhythm is flowing and jolting at times and sometimes moving very quickly, this makes the reader imagine a tall ship swiftly sailing over the rough and ferocius sea. There is a quick rhythm achieved through assonance, alliteration, monosylabbic words and rhyme scheme.
The poem is a simple lyric poem, which makes use of alot of simple language and extremely clear requests. The entire poem could be a metaphor for life and the challenges that not only we face but everyone around us. The image of the sea makes us depict an adventurous ocean, a contrast to life on land and very powerful images are also created by alot of figures of speech like similes, metaphors, personifications, descriptive adjectives and verbs. The title of the poem 'Sea-fever' evokes a feeling of home-sickness.
The first stanza reveals and captures the immensity and endlessness of the sea. 'I must down', pictures a decisive tone, a sense of haste and a feverish longing. The sea and the sky are personified in the line 'the lonely sea and the sky'. The simple desire and request is that he needs a tall ship and a star navigate his way. The alliteration in the first stanza evokes the sound of sails flapping with the strong wind or the waves slapping against the sides of the ship. the sea is compared to a woman's face which is a personification, it also refers to the ship as 'her', which means that the only companion he needs is his ship.
The second stanza reveals that the poet reinforces his sense of urgency that the persona feels in wanting to be at sea again. The personification of the tide is calling him but he cannot ignore the call. The tone in the second stanza is nostalgic and he clearly remembers what it was like being at sea; strong, powerful wind, stormy sea which means that its a sense of adventure, danger, wild, the alliteration intensifies the rhythm and image.
In stanza three, the persona considers having the life of a wanderer 'vagrant gypsy life', roaming around the world, travelling endlessly, endless voyage and a sense of freedom. There is an image of open waters and endless skies brings to mind the freedom he yearns for: the 'gull's way and the whale's way'. In the poem there is strenght and sharpness of wind against the persona's cheek evoked by a simile. The poet wants a happy tale from a like-minded traveler; he yearns for some companionship yet solitude also. The final line suggests an ending; a well deserved rest after a long day's work, an end of a difficult task or duty, an end of life and it evokes gentleness of peace and sleep.
Upon reading the poem, it appears that the journey at sea might be a metaphor for the journey of life. The persona appears to be very passionate about life at sea. It seems that the poet has great love and passion for the sea. In life everyone will feel passionate about something.
Andrew Tortell 4 Red