Friday, 25 June 2010


Montague Dawson
British Painter

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 winds 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.

John Masefield

From  Sea Water Ballads, published 1902.
Masefield said of them "They are a rough and tumble lot of ballads dealing with life at sea and drunken sailors, and i can't say there's much romance about them." At that stage he had not been hopeful about their chances of selling, but the 500 copies, at 3s 6d each, were sold out by the end of the year.