THE ETERNAL SEA
“The sea,” The Sage tells me too often, “gets into your blood.”
He may well have a point. Actually I read somewhere a long time ago that in some respects sea water and blood are much the same. But times have changed since The Sage sailed. We don’t sail these days. Hell, it’s getting so we don’t even steam any more; the world’s gone turbine.
As for the sea itself, most folks just fly over it—a glittering great greeny petty wet annoyance thousands of feet below on the way to somewhere else. “Why not,” I was once asked during an attack of nautical nostalgia for the sea (a recognised syndrome known as ‘sea fever’) “go on a cruise?” Momentarily I was almost overwhelmed by an urge to tear arms and legs off and stuff them u— to be perfectly honest I’d much rather have a cactus enema.
CRUISE? I LOOK FOR SIMILES
and find none. I’m reminded of the heyday of those prepackaged coach holidays, large buses stuffed with tourists identically dressed in the garish ‘free’ shirts and caps: “If today’s Thursday then this is Greece” … no, thanks.
I must go down to the sea again, to the
lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer
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
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
And all I ask is a windy day with the white
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
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the
long trick’s over.
As for cruise ‘ships’~? Yuk. Make that two cactuses … a powered floating hotel/casino, self-propelled fornicatorium with blue-rinsed dowager carnivores on the hunt and endless ‘free’ buffets—any resemblance to sea-time on one of those things is by association only.
And so it should be.
The sea is a possessive bitch with finite patience and a very long reach—she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. You turn your back on her entirely at your own risk; but meet her head on and she’ll take you in her arms in a manner few mere mortals would ever understand.
Masefield understood—he’d been there and it shows.