The speaker in "The Seafarer" is a sailor with a deep and abiding love for the sea. While the land might call out to him to settle down and leave his seafaring lifestyle behind, always the ocean successfully beckoned him back.
And who could believe, knowing but
The passion of cities, swelled proud with wine
And no taste of misfortune, how often, how wearily
I put myself back on the paths of the sea.
The narrator speaks of the horrors of a life at sea. He mourns the lack of laughter or a shared draught of mead, hearing instead the "death-noise of birds" or the cry of seagulls. He faces harsh weather with a bone-deep chilling from snow and ice. There seems little pleasure in sailing for this man. However, he finds no peace or abiding comfort on land.
And how my heart
Would begin to beat, knowing once more
The salt waves tossing...
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