Photo by Shawnna Donop from Pexels
Photo by Shawnna Donop from Pexels
THE STADE (Hastings)
desolate and deconstructed
now at rest
my remnant life
so inexorably sea-linked
and yet consoled
by those waves
on the shingle
of my shore
here on the stade
in the first throes of death
it is my destined fate
to pass on my faith
to those who succeed me
for hope exists
rebirth is on offer
amidst the rigours
of a relentless sea
on my pebbled bed
above the tides
prow still proudly fronting
those endless tides
bursting at my bows
resting at last
only my memories
trawling my sea-going past
recapturing the rapture
of my vibrant youth
the courageous tenor
of my old life
beside my brethren
brothers in desuetude
companions of my death in life
the mystery of my history
encapsulated in this
my tomb inscribed
with my exploits
within the planking of my hull
and the bulkheads of my carcass
but … no shipshape shrine
rather sea-scavengers paradise
Davy Jones the organ donor
salty entrails examined
my sea-going body parts
prized and picked over
ancient sea-dog mariners
making claim again
to my once upon a time worth
my parts in death available
bringing new life to old
what the sea has not already claimed
to tempt a new generation
my hull disembowelled
stripped to its frame
fading sea-life re-empowered
man’s eternal battle with the sea
continued and confirmed
empowering new sea ventures
harbingers of a new generation
to be subjected once more
to the ocean’s
and arcane grace
(No.56 of my favourite short poems)
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.
‘Sea Fever’ is perhaps the best known of all the poetic works of John Masefield. Born in Herefordshire, England, in 1878, he was the British poet laureate for 37 years in the middle of the 20th Century until his death in 1967. As a young man he trained as a merchant seaman, but, in 1895, he deserted his ship when in New York City. There he worked in a carpet factory before returning to London to write poems, in many of which he wrote about his experiences at sea.
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