Borrowing a leaf from Thomas, I'll run a set of three sea poems this week, beginning with what is doubtless the most famous of them all ...
(Poem #27) 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.
Another of those poems that everyone has probably read before, but no less good for being famous. The simple but beautiful phrases need no commentary, IMHO, so I'll merely note in passing that the first line is often written without the 'go' - again, I merely picked the variant I liked better. Biographical Note: MASEFIELD, John (1878-1967). Poet laureate of Great Britain from 1930 until his death, John Masefield was only 22 years old when he wrote the simple and moving lines in his poem 'Sea Fever'. Masefield was born on June 1, 1878, in Ledbury, Herefordshire, England. After his father's death he was looked after by an uncle. Young Masefield wanted to be a merchant marine officer. At 13 he boarded the training ship Conway moored in the river Mersey. After two and a half years on the school ship he was apprenticed aboard a sailing ship that was bound for Chile by way of Cape Horn. In Chile he became ill and had to return to England by steamer. He left the sea and spent several years living in the United States, working chiefly in a carpet factory. [...] In 1897 he returned to England determined to succeed as a writer. He worked on newspapers at first. But he never forgot his days at sea. He returned to them again and again in his poems and stories. He wrote about the land too, about typically English things like fox hunting, racing, and outdoor life. In 1902 Masefield published his first volume of poems, 'Salt-Water Ballads'. After that he wrote steadily poems, stories, and plays. -- Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Criticism: The results of his wanderings showed in his early works, Salt-Water Ballads (1902), Ballads (1903), frank and often crude poems of sailors written in their own dialect, and A Mainsail Haul (1905), a collection of short nautical stories. In these books Masefield possibly overemphasized passion and brutality but, underneath the violence, he captured that highly-colored realism which is the poetry of life. It was not until he published The Everlasting Mercy (1911) that he became famous. Followed quickly by those remarkable long narrative poems, The Widow in the Bye Street (1912), Dauber (1912), and The Daffodil Fields (1913), there is in all of these that peculiar blend of physical exulting and spiritual exaltation that is so striking, and so typical of Masefield. Their very rudeness is lifted to a plane of religious intensity. (See Preface.) Pictorially, Masefield is even more forceful. The finest moment in The Widow in the Bye Street is the portrayal of the mother alone in her cottage; the public-house scene and the passage describing the birds following the plough are the most intense touches in The Everlasting Mercy. Nothing more vigorous and thrilling than the description of the storm at sea in Dauber has appeared in current literature. -- Untermeyer, Louis, ed. 1920. Modern British Poetry.  Excerpt follows - it's too long a poem to run, but i'm glad of the chance to quote a bit of it. Anyone interested can find the full text at <[broken link] http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/2012/poems/dauber00.html> How long the gale had blown he could not tell, Only the world had changed, his life had died. A moment now was everlasting hell. Nature an onslaught from the weather side, A withering rush of death, a frost that cried, Shrieked, till he withered at the heart; a hail Plastered his oilskins with an icy mail.... "Up!" yelled the Bosun; "up and clear the wreck!" The Dauber followed where he led; below He caught one giddy glimpsing of the deck Filled with white water, as though heaped with snow. He saw the streamers of the rigging blow Straight out like pennons from the splintered mast, Then, all sense dimmed, all was an icy blast. Roaring from nether hell and filled with ice, Roaring and crashing on the jerking stage, An utter bridle given to utter vice, Limitless power mad with endless rage Withering the soul; a minute seemed an age. He clutched and hacked at ropes, at rags of sail, Thinking that comfort was a fairy tale, -- Masefield, from 'Dauber' martin