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.
So this was, at one point, my father’s favorite poem. I wanted to memorize it to honor him (he passed in 1984) but I have only gotten as far as the first couplet. There are two other poems which I might share later that I would also memorize for him. This is odd to me because Dad was a scientist, you wouldn’t think of him reading poetry. Mom was a librarian, you’d think of her being more involved in literature, but I don’t know of a poem that was meaningful to her. Just two books: the Bible and The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
Anyway, what brings all this up, is that my cousin sent me a picture today of Dad and Nana (his mother) on the boat we had while I was young. The name of the boat was Sea Fever, after the poem above. We sailed out of Beverly Harbor, through a facility called the Jubilee Yacht Club. Here’s their website, they still exist.
Now don’t get the idea that I grew up all rich because we owned a boat. We didn’t have color TV or wall to wall carpeting or a dishwasher or even wallpaper. But Dad wanted to sail, which we did many weekends, so we had a boat. She was a 32 foot sloop, which means she had one mast with a sail on both sides of it, and a jib out over the bow. All my memories of time on that boat are very visceral. I miss the ocean, living landlocked as I do now.
So I’m going to add the picture, my Nana looking prim and a little uncomfortable, Dad relaxed with a can of Budweiser in one hand and the tiller in the other. Funny the things that bring up memories. I can almost feel the rocking of the ocean and hear the seagulls and the lines clanking against the mast. This is probably around 1974; I believe by 1976 Dad owned a share in a small plane. Look at Dad being all casual in trousers and a button shirt. Notice that nobody wore jeans in my family, while I practically live in jeans these days. It was a different era.