Analyze the poem "Sea Fever" by John Masefield, including the themes, figures of speech, mood, tone and references.
The poem “Sea Fever” by John Masefield is the poet’s homage to the sea, which he loves and yearns to return to. The tone sets a reverential mood, as the poet stands in awe of the power of the sea. We sense that he leads a lonely life but that it is rewarding in so many ways, partially because the poet can feel so close to nature. In fact, themes in the poem include the beauty of nature, the peacefulness of being at sea (despite its loneliness), and the wonder of sharing stories with fellow travelers. We know that Masefield yearns to return to the sea from the very first line:
I must go down to the seas again
The author was a UK poet laureate. As a young man, he spent a lot of time on the seas. He also was aboard the HMS Conway for a period and believed at the time that he might pursue a career in the UK navy. Later, he boarded the Gilcruix to travel to South America. He wrote about his experiences at sea, noting how wonderful it was to view nature from the vantage point of a ship. He notes that life on the seas is “lonely.” Specifically, he wants to return “to the lonely sea and the sky.” Based on his other works, we know that he believes the sky looks extremely different on the seas where there are no distractions to obscure its beauty and the traveler is away from the crowds and noise of civilization.
The poet wants to experience the sea with all of his senses. He wants to hear “the wind’s song,” to see “a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking” and to feel, smell, and taste “the flung spray and the blown spume” when it blows in his face. He says,
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
He needs to return to the sea. It is calling to him, and he cannot ignore its call. He wants a windy day to help propel the ship and make him feel alive when he feels “the wind’s like a whetted knife.” All he wants is “a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover.” One of the things he enjoyed most about being at sea as a young man were the stories that the crew would tell one another.
Then he wants “quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.” This last line in the poem has a dual meaning. He wants to dream sweet dreams about the sea when the voyage has ended. "Sweet dreams" is a figure of speech alluding to an easy rest at night. The line is also is a metaphor for life itself. He wants a quiet sleep when his life is over.
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