Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Sea Gypsy by Edward Hovey

Back in April as part of my "Building A Poetry Collection" series for National Poetry Month, I posted "Sea Fever" by John Masefield, a favorite of mine because of its strong association with my maternal grandmother, who could recite it from memory. (It begins "I must down to the seas again,to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship a star to steer her by".)

Last week, I got a lovely email at my website from a then-stranger (hi Kevin!) who had stumbled across my post in the way that searching for things on the internet sometimes leads to, and in his very kind comments, he mentioned a poem by Richard Hovey called "The Sea Gypsy", which - at the time - I'd never read. But having remedied that situation, I can see why Kevin pairs the poems in his mind.

And I must say that I am sorry not to have read it sooner, but I'm so glad to have read it now that I thought I'd share it all with you today. I'm pretty sure in particular is going to love this one.

The Sea Gypsy
by Richard Hovey

I am fevered with the sunset,
I am fretful with the bay,
For the wander-thirst is on me
And my soul is in Cathay*.

There’s a schooner in the offing,
With her topsails shot with fire,
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.

I must forth again to-morrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the sea.


*Cathay: China

Terrific imagery - the sense of wanderlust comes through strongly, I think, and the love of the sea. The form of the poem (the technical explanation is below for them that wants it), with lines of regularly varying length, adds a rocking meter to the poem that contributes to the feeling of being at sea. Makes we want to head off on a boat - and I'm not really much of a boat lover!

The form of the poem uses trochaic tetrameter (four trochaic feet per line (TRO-key TRO-key TRO-key TRO-key), or, if you prefer two trochaic feet in each second line followed by a cretic foot (a three-syllable foot that follows a stress-non-stress pattern, such as LA-di-DAH).

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