Three Poems About the Sea

Although I grew up in Idaho, a landlocked state 800 miles away from the Pacific Ocean, I always liked the poem “Sea Fever” by John Masefield. I think most people are drawn to the sea in some way or another.

I even had “Sea Fever” memorized once, but I’ve forgotten it all except for the lines, “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky” and “the flung spray and the blown spume.” Here is the entire poem:

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.

While I was thinking about this poem—whose narrator is very much an old sailor inhabiting 20th century Georgian England—I remembered that all the elves in the high-fantasy world of The Lord of the Rings by English author J. R. R. Tolkien also longed for the sea in much the same way.

When the elf Legolas traveled near the sea and for the first time heard sea gulls calling, his innate sea-longing awoke and was expressed in this poem:

Legolas’s Song of the Sea
by J. R. R. Tolkien

To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gull are crying,

The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling.
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressëaut, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!

And finally, after remembering Tolkien, I remembered one more it’s-about-more-than-just-the-sea poem:

Crossing the Bar
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Why I Love Audiobooks

The wonderful thing about audiobooks is that I can do other things while I’m listening to them. They are perfect for multi-tasking. I love that I can listen to an audiobook and do any of the following:

  • Drive—Better than texting or talking on a cell phone!
  • Exercise—A great reason to go for a walk or a run!
  • Housework—Wash dishes, fold laundry!
  • Yardwork—Weed the garden, snap green beans!
  • Crafty things—Sew and crochet, organize photos!
  • Take a bath—No danger of dropping a book in the water 🙂

A paperback novel titled The Blue Castle by L. M. MontgomeryRecently, I wanted to re-read the novel The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery, but I didn’t have the time.

I could not find a commercial audiobook production of this novel, but I was fortunate to find a well-done amateur reading on YouTube.

 

 

 

 

Here is the first chapter:

And here is a link to the playlist for the entire novel:
Audiobook—The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

A Wintertime Lament About Forgotten Things

Several poems I once had memorized—back in a day when I was seemingly more ambitious and resourceful and I actually engaged in such worthwhile pursuits as poetry memorization!—have slipped from my memory, possibly from lack of practice and inevitable brain aging.

Lying in bed the other night, while drifting into sleep, I was able to recall one of these almost-forgotten poems. My mind found a line here and there, and catching the pattern of the rhyme, brought these verses again into active memory.

Here is the poem as I remember it:

The Land That God Forgot
by Robert Service

The lonely sunsets flare forlorn
Down valleys dreadly desolate.
The lordly mountains soar in scorn,
As still as death, as stern as fate.

The lonely sunsets flame and die,
The giant valleys gulp the night.
The monster mountains scrape the sky,
Where eager stars are burning bright.

So gaunt against the gibbous moon,
Piercing the silence velvet-piled,
The lone wolf howls his ancient rune—
The fell arch-spirit of the wild.

O outcast land! O leper land!
Let the lone wolf’s cry all express
The hate insensate of thy hand,
Thy heart’s abysmal loneliness.

Now, here is the actual poem, which I just looked up in an Internet search. I highlighted the differences between the poem in my memory and the poem in reality. My memory didn’t do too badly!

The Land God Forgot
by Robert W. Service

The lonely sunsets flare forlorn
Down valleys dreadly desolate;
The lordly mountains soar in scorn
As still as death, as stern as fate.

The lonely sunsets flame and die;
The giant valleys gulp the night;
The monster mountains scrape the sky,
Where eager stars are diamond-bright.

So gaunt against the gibbous moon,
Piercing the silence velvet-piled,
A lone wolf howls his ancient rune—
The fell arch-spirit of the Wild.

O outcast land! O leper land!
Let the lone wolf-cry all express
The hate insensate of thy hand,
Thy heart’s abysmal loneliness.

As I recall, Robert Service wrote this poem about his experience of the northern frontier Yukon wilderness in the early part of the 20th century.

It seems fitting that I remembered a poem about a forgotten land while engaging in a wintertime lament about my own loss of memory. Here in the depths of this cold and dark winter, I simply feel like I used to know more back when I was younger and better.

I have to remind myself that there are still good days to come! As spring approaches, I’ll look up and restore to my memory a few more of those nearly-forgotten poems.