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.

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.

I must go down to the sea again …..

The pull of the sea and the beginning of Autumn go hand in hand. As the days shorten and evenings draw in, the coast becomes a place to be for its own sake - not just a place to be to escape the heat, not just a cooler anywhere, but a place in its own right. Walking on the beach in the morning there are few footprints in the sand, and those on the return journey are more likely to be your own. Like walking in empty corridors or darkened streets, you find the echoes of your own footfall coming back to find you.

The beaches are not empty, but there are less crowds, fewer people, more space. Directionless walking is possible without the tripwire danger of other people's space. There is enough space for each person, and conversations are a result of choice, rather than obligation. Chance meetings. Old friends.

Couples, reflective on the beach. Singles, never truly alone. Conversations with the other, conversations with self. Each builds understanding, each builds connection. Both are important, neither should be rejected.

On the horizon a shape - white, straight-sided and unnatural - forms into the sail of a ship, running from a coasting wind, cutting waves, throwing spray as it passes. The pale dawn sky grey now, but growing blue, as the waves wash away the pock marks of last night's rain and my own footprints.

Even in the full light of day the sky is not as blue as the summer sky. Less of a roof, more of a shade cloth, that lets the light through and the heat out. At this time of year the sky thins and the beyond becomes visible, in my mind at least. Clear air without the barriers of heat haze and dust. You can seek clarity here, not just sanctuary.

Last night's rain, arriving just as the dawn was breaking, came in, chased by southern winds from the Antarctic. The sound of rain on a tin roof, the white noise of Australian architecture, is a rare pleasure, but one which seems a little more common than in the last few years. The rain’s hiss blends with the lonely, repetitive, call of a Frogmouth, a mix of the natural and the man made. This is no wilderness, but wildness can come calling if you listen, if you let it in.

The morning of such days have a powerful pull, beach washed debris calls to finders and the observant, to seekers of treasure. The gulls dance in the wave's edge, shuffle footed to stir up life, breakfast for them, death for others. With fewer people they are less flighty, less disturbed, but when they do fly they give vent to protest in sharp calls and darting flight.

In the evening a huge moon struggled to pull itself from the Earth, a Blue Moon if the truth be told, and turned the sky pink as it grew. Full and ripe, a lunar fruit in a sky at the turn of the season, watched from a beach at the turn of the tide. High tide, full moon, the turning of the year.

Standing by the sea, looking out, watching waves formed by yesterday's winds arriving today, you can feel its pull. Even on the edge of a small sea you can feel the pull of travel, move a few miles and you can hear the deep south calling. What’s out there where the whales swim and stiff winged birds glide? Ages between wing beats, feeding on the wave's energy and the deep swell of a global ocean. East and West has nothing but sea, out past Capes and continents and back to this lighthouse point, where falcons circle and people come to stop and stare, and talk of the future, or to think of the past.

This brief time by the sea is over, so tonight I will sleep without the call of the sea as the day fails. The soft crash of waves replaced by the sound of trams and passing trains. This holiday has passed, but we will be back, called back

………. to the lonely sea and the sky.


N Monckton said…
On a slightly similar note.. this time from Styx

I'm sailing away,
Set an open course for the virgin sea,
'Cause I've got to be free,
Free to face the life that's ahead of me,
on board, I'm the captain, so climb aboard,
We'll search for tomorrow on every shore,
And I'll try, Oh Lord I'll try, to carry on

I look to the sea,
Reflections in the waves spark my memory,
Some happy, some sad,
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had,
We lived happily forever, so the story goes,
But somehow we missed out on the pot of gold
But we'll try best that we can to carry on

A gathering of angels appeared above my head,
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said,
They said come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me lads,

Ian Le Page said…
Ah yes, intimations of the sea...windswept dunes, the scattered pellets of rain streaking a corrugated roof...roaming with serendipity along some ragged's hooded head bent in resistance to a tempest's onslaught...on some tempestuous headland...the blessed retreat to the fire...
Stewart, you have prompted me to these musings with your elemental and evocative piece!!!
Chris C. said…
The sea is indeed evocative and mesmerizing. A reminder of primordial chaos that led to order and bliss. The moon (indeed a Paschal moon) a reminder of worlds - other worlds and existences far off. From this man's perspective reminders of God's love - to another perhaps, the wonder of Nature. Your book grows Stewart!!
Garry said…
Hi Stewart, I remember having to memorise that John Masefield poem in grade 6 and stand on a platform and recite it to the whole class. It seems to have stayed with me all these years - good to see it here again. You really could have been an English teacher, you know. Cheers.

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