A Bench at Haceta Head Light
On a recent trip to Oregon, we stayed on the Haceta Head property. Haceta Head Light is a lighthouse on the Oregon Coast and is part of the Haceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint, a state park, midway up a 205-foot-tall headland. Built in 1894, the 56-foot-tall lighthouse shines a beam visible for 21 nautical miles, making it the strongest light on the Oregon Coast. Brisk winds and some smoke from the ongoing forest fires didn’t keep us away from enjoying beautiful views, a fire at the bed and breakfast, a joyful happy hour as another guest sang a maritime poem followed by an evening stroll up to the lighthouse for a clear view of the good old Milky Way!!! Sometimes you’re so in the right place at the right time!
The poem: Sea-Fever 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 SALT-WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, by John Masefield, published by the Maxmillan Co., NY, © 1913, p. 55; the poem was first published in SALT-WATER BALLADS, © 1902.
There has been much debate over the first line and it is indeed “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky;” “go down to the seas” was a poetic way of saying going sailing and did not refer to any specific body of water, similarly “the lonely sea” was simply talking about open water rather than a specific sea.
Masefield’s use of the word “trick” indicates a period of duty on a specific task such as handling the wheel or lookout.