Sea Fever, 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.
Now, I am catholic in my romances, and though the unknown gate and branching footpath is far more the opening of adventure to me, I hear the lure of the sea as well. I have been looking forward to the tall ships since I moved to the East Coast, and this weekend they came to Halifax. First I looked at them from afar, from the MacDonald bridge (and thereby fulfilled one of the items on my list, since I have learned that pedestrians are not permitted to cross the MacKay bridge):
The Roseway and the Unicorn and the Eagle, ships of one mast, of two, of three: replicas and originals, schooners and be-cannoned warships. Sails furled, at quiet rest at the docks on a gorgeously sunny afternoon as it was both Saturday and Sunday, clambered upon by crowds. My friend Giselle and I spent a happy couple of hours wandering along the harbour boardwalks, talking about the ships, about stories of sea-adventures, of pirates and the great dream of the far places.
There’s a family story that somewhere buried in our past is a Spanish sailor. But even without him, my family is from England, and my Dad’s family from that same corner of Yorkshire as Captain Cook, between Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby. (The connotations of those two names brackets much of my character. Bede and Caedmon and the Greenwood, the moors and little farms and the sea . . .)
Oh, one day I’ll follow the whale’s way. The world’s invitation stands open — but right now I’m still in the process of preparing for the adventures to come next year, and those are planned to be afoot. Perhaps if I can swing it I’ll come back from Europe by tall ship? There are ways, you know, there are companies that let you travel half-passenger and half-crew. Perhaps I’ll run away home that way . . .