The British writer John Masefield was born on this day, June 1, 1878.
A poet and novelist, Masefield was the British Poet Laureate for 37 years. While he wrote numerous novels and many volumes of verse during his long career, he's probably best remembered for his famous sailing poem. Sea Fever was included in his first published anthology of poems, Salt-Water Ballads, in 1902. It was based on several years he spent as a young man working as a sailor on various ships.
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.