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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Common sense, uncommon words

“Poetry is a mixture of common sense, which not all have, with an uncommon sense, which very few have.” John Masefield

I wrote of Masefield, longtime Poet Laureate of Great Britain, earlier this week on the occasion of what would have been his 138th birthday.  He was and remains one of those poets who have the uncommon sense to take every ordinary thing and make it shine.

Masefield loved the sea, lived for years on the sea (aboard the HMS Conway) and wrote of it often in both prose and poetry.  His “Sea Fever” with the famous line “I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky” is probably known by all, and I commend it to you again for your reading pleasure.  But for Saturday’s Poem, I give you another of Masefield’s terrific short poems,

The Wanderer

A WIND'S in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels, 
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels; 
I hunger for the sea's edge, the limit of the land, 
Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.

Oh I'll be going, leaving the noises of the street, 
To where a lifting foresail-foot is yanking at the sheet; 
To a windy, tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride, 
Oh I'll be going, going, until I meet the tide.

And first I'll hear the sea-wind, the mewing of the gulls, 
The clucking, sucking of the sea about the rusty hulls, 
The songs at the capstan at the hooker warping out, 
And then the heart of me'll know I'm there or thereabout.

Oh I am sick of brick and stone, the heart of me is sick, 
For windy green, unquiet sea, the realm of Moby Dick; 
And I'll be going, going, from the roaring of the wheels, 
For a wind's in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels.

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