Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry Friday

This was read at my grandmother's funeral. My family comes from a northern shipbuilding town on the North Sea. Every weekend, every vacation was spent at the beach. I'm not talking lounging around in bikinis. Our beaches, though sometimes balmy, are usually windswept, lonely, and breathtaking. The water is freezing cold and the color of precious jewels. The sand is a million shades of gold and the air cleans your lungs and blows away petty human worries. The last time I spoke to my grandmother was at the beach. She died unexpectedly at seventy, having survived depression, an abusive husband, a controlling mother, and World War II. I still cannot read this without weeping.

I Must Go Down to the Sea by John Masefield

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.

Round up is at


Cloudscome said...

This is a beautiful, beautiful poem. That's my kind of beach too. Sorry for missing your grandmother...

Anonymous said...

My own grandmother used to recite this poem from memory, although she'd learned it as "I Must Down to the Sea Again" - the "go" was, well, gone.

It is lovely to have poems tied so firmly to place and experience and the people we love, is it not? And the missing never stops, and is always bittersweet, but the sweet is worth it, I think.

Mary Lee said...

This is one of my very favorite poems ever. The rhythm of the words is the rhythm of waves.

If your grandmother had to have a hard life, at least she had the sea, too.

Anonymous said...

I learned this poem in the 3rd grade, some 45 years ago; it is still one of my favorites.