Van Gogh – 1888: ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’ (detail) … Musee d’Orsay
MY DISTANT STAR
It’s not what I meant by following my star but that’s how it is you’re so remote and afar.
so in my reflections I make the connections I’ve been living your life I’ve laid siege to your mind and fenced in your feelings thinking your thoughts and wishing your wants your dreams I’ve been dreaming
so what am I doing with this surrogate presence? what will I find and what can I prove amidst mist and fashion by chasing each clue? a sense of your passion that essence of you?
I need to give you a meaning to capture that feeling of truly belonging no longer just dreaming no longer an adjunct no remote stalker given to stealing your dreams, thoughts and wishes your love and your kisses
and then if I dare all that I want is your love to snare rejoice in the glow all else is despair
W hen our paths crossed those years ago I n time long past and place afar S o young and pure the afterglow T hat kissing then ‘neath that bright star F orever memories did bestow U ntil that required au revoir L ost us a life and let us go
E ach and every time I try, R esolutely to be free, O ver the air your soft words fly, T ouching, teasing, tempting me, I n a whisper and a sigh, C hiding senses your charms to see; A nd I’ll surrender by and by.
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.
By John Masefield
‘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.