Poems are often too packed with meanings to make usable songs - but John Masefield's well-loved English language poem Sea Fever works beautifully with the classic old English ballad tune Dives and Lazarus, and audiences seem to appreciate it. I feel privileged that the idea came to me as it feels like it's been waiting to happen for rather more than a century...
by John Masefield
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.
from The Running Tide,
released April 23, 2015
Sea Fever poem by John Masefield, tune trad arr Gavin Atkin