In the poem "Sea Fever" by John Masefield, where does the meter reinforce the sense of the poem—the kick of the wheel and the roll of the sea?"Sea Fever" by John Masefield.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The meter is iambic and anapestic heptameter (seven feet and 14-21 syllables). It is mostly iambic which is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (da DUM). But some anapestic feet are mixed in. An anapestic foot consists of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable (da da DUM). There also a few feet made of just one stressed syllable. The iamb comes very natural to the English language. In this poem, it has a sing-song quality. This makes it sound natural and jaunty like a chantey, which is a song chanted by sailors as they work. The first two lines in heptameter, with iambs and anapests, would sound like this:

(da DUM - da DUM – da da DUM – da DUM – da da DUM – da DUM – da da DUM)

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

(da DUM - da DUM – da da DUM – DUM – da da DUM – da DUM – da DUM)

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

Since it sounds like a chantey, a sea song, this reinforces the theme of the poem which is a fever for the sea. The cadence also swings back and forth. This symbolizes the ebb and flow of the tide and the rocking of the boat: the “wheel’s kick and the wind’s song.”

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