Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, SEA-FEVER, by JOHN MASEFIELD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

SEA-FEVER, by         Recitation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Sea-Fever" was published in 1902 as part of Masefield's collection of poems called "Salt-Water Ballads." At the time, Masefield was a young writer and had just begun his career as a poet. The poem reflects Masefield's love for the sea, which he had experienced firsthand during his youth working as a merchant seaman.


The poem is a lyrical tribute to the sea and the sailors who brave its dangers. The speaker begins by expressing his desire to go to sea, using vivid and sensory language to convey the allure of the ocean. He describes the feeling of the wind and the waves, and the sense of freedom and adventure that comes with sailing. The second stanza describes the speaker's longing for the sea, and his willingness to leave behind the comforts of land in pursuit of it. The final stanza is a declaration of the speaker's devotion to the sea, and a recognition of the risks and uncertainties that come with life at sea.


"Sea-Fever" is a short lyric poem consisting of three stanzas, each with four lines. The poem has a simple and straightforward structure, with an ABAB rhyme scheme and a consistent rhythm of iambs. The simplicity of the form reflects the directness of the poem's emotional appeal.

Poetic Elements:

Masefield uses a variety of poetic devices to convey the speaker's love for the sea, including sensory language, repetition, and personification. The poem is rich in imagery, with vivid descriptions of the wind and the waves. The repetition of the phrase "I must go down to the sea again" throughout the poem emphasizes the speaker's longing for the sea. The personification of the sea as a "wild call" and a "vagrant gypsy" reflects the speaker's sense of the sea as a powerful and unpredictable force.


"Sea-Fever" is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the lure and danger of the sea. Masefield's use of vivid imagery and sensory language immerses the reader in the speaker's experience, and his simple and direct style makes the poem accessible and memorable. The poem's enduring popularity is a testament to its universal appeal, and its status as a classic of English poetry is well-deserved.

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