“Sea Fever” is just one of the best-loved poems of man Masefield, former Poet Laureate the England. This poem shows up in Masefield’s an initial book of city Salt-Water Ballads. In this poem, Masefield describes his excitement worrying the sea, that fulfilling waves, and also adventurous voyages. The location of the poem provides a note of the poet’s childhood excitement whenever the thought about the sea. This poem vividly portrays the feel of the speaker. Its music verses take readers away ~ above a trip by a high ship, ~ above the endless, large sea.

You are watching: Sea fever by john masefield meaning

Read the complete text the “Sea Fever” here in addition to the analysis section.

Table that Contents


John Masefield’s “Sea Fever” describes a speaker’s within proximity to the sea. Exactly how badly he desire to go under the sea ~ above a delivery is shown in each stanza. The an initial stanza, for instance, starts with the speaker’s longing for the lonely sea under the large sky. That asks for nothing else other than a ship to sail continuously. The wheel’s sound associated with the wind’s sound provides his heart thrilled through joy and also fulfillment.

Likewise, in the 2nd stanza, that talks about the “call of running tide”. Listening it, the cannot save himself ashore. He just asks because that a publicly day with white clouds flying above him while he sails adrift. The critical stanza deals with the speaker’s wish for life on a ship. He speak of life the adventurous days of his life happy while listening to the story from a other rover.


The location of the poem “Sea Fever” is exciting to take note of. In the title, the ax “Fever” describes the nervous excited in the speaker’s heart while he thinks around life top top the sea. That is prefer a pleasurable disease that he does not desire a cure of. He badly wants to live his life v this amorous sickness because that the sea. V the title, Masefield provides a hint come this idea. If one goes with the entire text, one have the right to understand the is the significance of the poem. The way Masefield’s persona explains life top top the sea by providing vivid imagery that the surroundings highlights his love because that the adventurous life of sailors and the sea. This bonding incites the longing in his heart.

Form, happiness Scheme, & Meter

Structure & Form

“Sea Fever” consists of 3 quatrains or stanzas having four lines each. In every quatrain, Masefield provides the end-stopped stanza sample in stimulate to current a complete idea within a stanza. It starts with the pronoun “I”. So, the speaker of this piece carefully resembles the poet. Because of the presence of a first-person speak alongside that is beautiful rhythm, this poem is an instance of a lyric. Structurally, the lengthy lines reflect a sense of longing in the speaker’s heart.

Rhyme Scheme

The rhyme system of the poem is AABB CCDD EEFF. This system is adhered to throughout. So, every stanza is composed of two rhyming couplets that room tied together concerning the topic matter. In the first stanza, the rhyming bag of words encompass “sky” and also “by”, and “shaking” and also “breaking”.


Each line of the message contains, much more or less, fourteen syllables. The city is composed in a mix of anapestic and also iambic meter v a couple of variations. Let’s look at the scansion the the an initial stanza to recognize the all at once metrical pattern.

I need to down/ come the seas/ a-gain,/ to the lone/-ly sea/ and the sky,

And all/ ns ask/ is a/ tall ship/ and a star/ to steer/ her by;

And the/ wheel’s kick/ and the/ wind’s song/ and also the/ white sail’s/ shak-ing,

And a/ grey mist/ on the/ sea’s face,/ and also a/ grey dawn/ break-ing.

In this excerpt, reader can find the usage of spondees and pyrrhics in the 3rd and fourth lines. While the last foot of this lines is trochaic. The use of anapestic valuation alongside fast iambic note resonates v the sound the sea waves.

Poetic tools & figures of Speech

In “Sea Fever”, Masefield supplies the adhering to poetic devices.

Refrain: each quatrain begins with a refrain of the expression “I should down to the seas again”. It create a resonance the the dominant passion in the speaker’s heart.Personification: It wake up in the adhering to phrases: “lonely sea”, “a high ship and also a star steer she by”, “wheel’s kick”, “wind’s song”, etc. In this poem, Masefield offers this an equipment in other instances in bespeak to infuse life into inanimate objects such as the sea, wind, wheel, etc.Anaphora: Masefield uses this device in the last three lines the the an initial stanza. This lines begin with the conjunction “And”. It additionally occurs in the last two lines of the following stanzas.Alliteration: The repetition of similar sounds deserve to be discovered in “star to steer”, “sail’s shaking”, “clear call”, etc.Repetition: The ax “call” is repeated in the an initial two lines of the 2nd stanza. That is intended for the benefits of emphasis.Polysyndeton: It wake up in the lines “And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s track and the white sail’s shaking,” and “And the flung spray and the swollen spume, and the sea-gulls crying”. Here, “and” is repetitive to accomplish an imaginative effect in the lines.Metaphor: It occurs in “a star to steer her by”. Here, the poet metaphorically refers to the polestar the helps seafarers to uncover directions.

Line-by-Line analysis & Explanation

Lines 1-4

I need to down come the seas again, come the lonely sea and the sky,

And all i ask is a tall ship and also a star to steer she by;

And the wheel’s kick and also the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist ~ above the sea’s face, and also a grey dawn breaking.

The poem “Sea Fever” begins with the speaker’s great to go to the sea. He offers the ax “must” in order come reflect a feeling of urgency or importance. It means he somehow needs to go there to keep. The concerned excitement concerning the sea is referred to in the title.

In the first line, he talks about going come the “lonely sea” and the sky. It seems without his visibility the sea feeling lonely. If that is no there who will drink its beauty to the lees. This thirst of sea fever cannot keep him ashore. He clarifies his great in the complying with line. Every he asks for is a tall ship to sail through and the popstar to guide him throughout the journey.

This section, though appears simple, hints at a deeper philosophical idea. It concerns spirituality. Here, the “ship”, personified together a lady, is the one who helps the speaker to sail through. If the polestar, a prize of constancy and also permanence, acts together a guide. The can get spiritual fulfillment if both that them are with him.

In the following line, Masefield personifies the inanimate objects “wheel”, “wind”, and also “sail”. He describes the sound of the ship’s wheel by the hatchet “wheel’s kick”. Similarly, he hints at the sound the the wind by “wind’s song”. The following phrase “white sail’s shaking” depicts how the sail trembles in the wind.

The speaker describes watching the dawn from a ship. In ~ dawn, the sea shows up to be a person whose confront is extended with grey mist. The poet describes the daybreak as “grey dawn breaking”. The dawn grey color is contempt darker 보다 the color of platinum. When the sunlight is simply beneath the horizon, the sky shows this color.

Lines 5-8

I should down to the seas again, for the speak to of the to run tide

Is a wild call and also a clear speak to that might not be denied;

And all ns ask is a windy day v the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and also the puffy spume, and also the sea-gulls crying.

The 2nd stanza begins with a refrain of the expression “I should down come the seas again”. Masefield supplies this repetition in order come portray the speaker’s state of mind. The badly wants to go down to the seas anyhow as the running tide calls him. The “running tide” is a reference to the sound the sea waves.

According come the speaker, it is a “wild” kind of speak to that a listener cannot deny. Here, the ax “wild” shows the untamed nature the the sea. It is boundless, carefree, and also mighty. The same echoes in that sound hearing i beg your pardon the speak cannot aid but walk to the sea. Besides, the sound is so clean and an effective that it has actually the capability to stir his spirit. Once one’s heart gets incited, nothing can stop that from going to the source of the stimulus.

In the following lines, the elaborates top top the things he misses while staying ashore. These things incorporate a “windy day” the favors the sailors, and the “white clouds” that fill his heart through peace. Moreover, he asks for the spray that seawater ~ above his face, the sea “spume”, and also the crying the seagulls. Spume way froth or fume the is discovered in sea waves. 

Lines 9-12

I must down to the seas again, come the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s means and the whale’s means where the wind’s prefer a whetted knife;

And all i ask is a funny yarn indigenous a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and also a sweet dream once the long trick’s over.

In the critical stanza of “Sea Fever”, Masefield further describes life in ~ sea. He describes it as the “vagrant gypsy life”. So, the speak does not desire a life that immobility, comfort, and also contentment. He wants to break complimentary of his cage and also be prefer the sea. That’s why he wishes to be prefer a vagrant or gypsy. Prefer them, the does not desire to continue to be in one place, forever. He wants to explore, unravel, and wonder about the beauty beauty of the sea.

He wants to follow the course where the gulls take it him with their shrill cries. The phrase “whale’s way” refers to life at sea. In this line, Masefield offers a simile in order to to compare the sea wind come a “whetted knife”. At the sea, the wind blows so fast that it feels choose a sharpened knife.

In the next line, he asks because that a happy tale told by a laughing “fellow-rover”. Rover way a seafarer who wanders on the sea. V this line, the poet alludes come the story he heard while he was on the ship. In the critical line, the speaker claims that he wants a quiet sleep and a sweet dream ~ the lengthy journey is over. Till then he does want to sleep. Here, “sleep” is a metaphorical referral to death. By utilizing this metaphor, the poet explains his attachment to the sea.


Masefield’s “Sea Fever” explores the themes that wanderlust, the beauty of the sea, longing, and also nature. The main theme that this poem involves a speaker’s longing for the sea. He explains his attachment with it to “Sea Fever”, an ailment that just the sea deserve to cure. It is also a referral to the speaker’s excited whenever he think of life at sea. In this poem, he defines the things that he badly wants. Native his description, that is clear exactly how much the misses the sea. It likewise acts together a medium of his spirituality fulfillment. Apart from that, the design template of wanderlust is existing in the critical stanza. Here, the poet hints at the speaker’s wish for a life choose a gypsy.


The tone of the city is calm, emotive, and also urgent. In every stanza, the repetition of the phrase “I need to down to the seas again” create a feeling of urgency. The speaker somehow needs to go on a delivery in stimulate to enjoy the calm beauty of the sea. It appears as if the sea keeps his heart alive like the air us breathe. He need to go over there to sustain himself. Besides, the patience tone that the city is reflected through the lines. The restlessness in the speaker’s love is beautiful fused through the calm tone of the poem. Lastly, the nostalgia of the speaker concerning the sea is likewise reflected in the text.


Masefield supplies the following varieties of imagery in “Sea Fever”.

Visual Imagery: Masefield provides this type of imagery in order to depict the sea, sky, and also ship visually in the first few lines. The heat “And a grey mist ~ above the sea’s face, and also a grey dawn breaking” has a visual photo of dawn in ~ sea.Auditory Imagery: the is provided in “wind’s song”, “white sail’s shaking”, “call the the to run tide”, and also “sea-gulls crying”.Organic Imagery: The poet provides this kind of imagery come portray the feeling of the speaker. The is current in “And quiet sleep and a sweet dream once the long trick’s over”.Kinesthetic Imagery: the is supplied in “the white sail’s shaking”, and also “the to run tide”, “clouds flying”.

See more: How To Program Bose Cinemate Remote, Using Another Remote To Control Your Bose System

Historical Context

“Sea Fever” was first published in man Masefield’s first poetry repertoire Salt-Water Ballads. The was published in 1902. This city was later consisted of in The accumulated Poems of man Masefield in 1923 v a slight modification in its an initial line. This book concerns the themes the seafaring and also maritime history. Masefield invested his early years aboard. While he was on the ship, that listened come the sea lore indigenous the sailors. Those stories motivated him to end up being a writer and storyteller himself. In this poem, Masefield share his attachments to life plank a ship. The memories worrying his trips are mentioned here.