Sea Fever

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The weather had changed and the day was bright, albeit with masses of grey clouds hurrying across the sky, but the wind was icy and much too strong for comfort, so Algy decided to spend some time looking back through his past adventures… and happened upon this GIF from early February two years ago, when conditions were evidently very similar…

And as the keen wind whistled through his feathers and froze the tip of his beak, Algy thought to himself:

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.

[Algy is quoting the second verse of the famous poem Sea Fever by the early 20th century English poet John Masefield.]

adventuresofalgy:

Overnight, most of the remaining snow quietly vanished from the area around Algy’s home, and on the following morning the air felt much less icy. Algy had stayed away from the beach during the recent run of bitterly cold north winds, as it was much too exposed for comfort. But when the wind dropped to a more reasonable level and the temperature rose slightly, he wasted no time in returning to the ocean. He had to admit that it wasn’t exactly warm, but it was cosy enough tucked down among the Marram grass. It was so good to be beside the sea again…

The weather had changed and the day was bright, albeit with masses of grey clouds hurrying across the sky, but the wind was icy and much too strong for comfort, so Algy decided to spend some time looking back through his past adventures… and happened upon this GIF from early February two years ago, when conditions were evidently very similar…

And as the keen wind whistled through his feathers and froze the tip of his beak, Algy thought to himself:

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.

[Algy is quoting the second verse of the famous poem Sea Fever by the early 20th century English poet John Masefield.]

As there was little hope of a change in the weather, Algy decided that the next best thing was a change of scene, so he flew out to the lighthouse rocks to contemplate the wide expanse of ocean. The wind was bitterly cold and the day was overcast, but the view in the silvery light was fine. Looking west from the rocks, Algy could see nothing but sea and sky, and the slim shadow of an island or two on the horizon – plus a tiny sailboat racing headlong down the wind. Algy was inevitably reminded of Masefield’s popular poem:

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.

[Algy is quoting the poem Sea-Fever by the early 20th century English poet John Masefield.]

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The weather was changing again, and the wind was in the west. Algy decided to fly over to the Sound, to watch the wind blow fresh clouds in from the ocean, and look at the April light on the water. This was a month of ever-changing light; a time when bright sunshine burst through clouds and was gone again, when it might rain at any moment and then stop again just as suddenly, and when blue sky appeared and disappeared in rapid succession. Although it still felt cold, Algy loved the west wind, and he loved the month of April. As he perched on the rocks, he thought of John Masefield’s famous poem, and felt very glad that he was at home in the west land where the larks and thrushes sing:

          It’s a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries;
          I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes.
          For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills.
          And April’s in the west wind, and daffodils.

          It’s a fine land, the west land, for hearts as tired as mine,
          Apple orchards blossom there, and the air’s like wine.
          There is cool green grass there, where men may lie at rest,
          And the thrushes are in song there, fluting from the nest.

         “Will ye not come home brother? ye have been long away,
          It’s April, and blossom time, and white is the may;
          And bright is the sun brother, and warm is the rain,–
          Will ye not come home, brother, home to us again?

          "The young corn is green, brother, where the rabbits run.
          It’s blue sky, and white clouds, and warm rain and sun.
          It’s song to a man’s soul, brother, fire to a man’s brain,
          To hear the wild bees and see the merry spring again.

          "Larks are singing in the west, brother, above the green wheat,
          So will ye not come home, brother, and rest your tired feet?
          I’ve a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes,”
          Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries.

          It’s the white road westwards is the road I must tread
          To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head,
          To the violets, and the warm hearts, and the thrushes’ song,
          In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong.

[Algy is quoting John Masefield’s poem The West Wind.]

It had been very pleasant to sit in the sun among the pretty daffodils in his friends’ garden, but it wasn’t long before Algy heard the call of the sea again. He could never stay away from the ocean for long without suffering from Sea Fever, and he knew that there was only one remedy for that particular disorder:

      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.

[Algy is quoting the first two verses of the popular poem Sea Fever by John Masefield.]

On the other side of the loch, Algy found a battered old boat listing against the pebbles of the beach. He perched on the side of the wreck in the sunshine and gazed down the length of the great sea loch, far out towards the ocean, thinking of a poem he had read:

          One road leads to London,
             One road leads to Wales,
          My road leads me seawards
             To the white dipping sails.

          One road leads to the river,
             As it goes singing slow;
          My road leads to shipping,
             Where the bronzed sailors go.

          Leads me, lures me, calls me
             To salt green tossing sea;
          A road without earth’s road-dust
             Is the right road for me.

          A wet road heaving, shining,
             And wild with seagull’s cries,
          A mad salt sea-wind blowing
             The salt spray in my eyes.

          My road calls me, lures me
             West, east, south, and north;
          Most roads lead men homewards,
             My road leads me forth

          To add more miles to the tally
             Of grey miles left behind,
          In quest of that one beauty
             God put me here to find.

[Algy is reciting the poem Roadways from the collection Salt Water Poems and Ballads by John Masefield, first published in 1912.]

It was an almost perfect afternoon. How could Algy resist perching on the prow of the beached boat in the warm sunshine? He settled himself against the ropes, and gazed out to sea, far beyond the lighthouse, dreaming of setting sail for faraway places when the tide swept back in. Perhaps he might travel to the exotic lands of the Trade Winds; he could almost believe that he could hear their “long low croon”:

          In the harbour, in the island, in the Spanish Seas,
          Are the tiny white houses and the orange-trees,
          And day-long, night long, the cool and pleasant breeze
             Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

          There is the red wine, the nutty Spanish ale,
          The shuffle of the dancers, the old salt’s tale,
          The squeaking fiddle, and the soughing in the sail
             Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

          And o’ nights there’s fire-flies and the yellow moon,
          And in the ghostly palm-trees the sleepy tune
          Of the quiet voice calling me, the long low croon
             Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

[Algy is quoting the poem Trade Winds from Salt Water Poems and Ballads by John Masefield, first published in 1912.]

The rain had stopped, the mist lifted, and slowly the sun began to come out. Algy could feel a change in the air. Something was up; he could taste the salt on the wind. He knew what it was – he had Sea Fever, and there was only one remedy. He must go down to the sea again:

         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.

[Algy is quoting the first two verses of the popular poem which every young chick learns by heart: Sea Fever by John Masefield.]

Algy decided to move onto the rocks for a spot of chilly sunbathing. The amazing colours of the water in the bay reminded him of a poem he used to love when he was just a wee chick, except that here the jewels were in the sea itself:

            Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
            Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
            With a cargo of diamonds,
            Emeralds, amythysts,
            Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

[Algy is quoting the middle verse of the poem Cargoes by John Masefield.]