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Analysis of "sea Fever" by John Masefield

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Analysis of "sea Fever" by John Masefield

John Masefield's poem "Sea Fever" is a work of art that brings

beauty to the English language through its use of rhythm, imagery

and many complex figures of speech. The meter in "Sea Fever"

follows the movement of the tall ship in rough water through its

use of iambs and hard hitting spondees. Although written primarily

in iambic meter, the meter in "Sea Fever" varies throughout the

poem. The imagery in "Sea Fever" suggests an adventurous ocean

that appeals to all five senses. Along with an adventurous ocean,

"Sea Fever" also sets a mood of freedom through imagery of

traveling gypsies. Perhaps, the most complex part of this poem is

the use of personification and metaphor. These figures of speech

go beyond the meter and imagery to compare life to a sea voyage and

portray a strong longing for the sea. The two main themes of "Sea

Fever" bring the reader closer to the sea and help the reader

understand why the speaker must return to the sea. "Sea Fever" not

only depicts a strong longing for the sea through its theme, but

also through use of complex figures of speech, imagery, and meter.

"Sea Fever" is an excellent example of varied meter which

follows the actions of a tall ship through high seas and strong

wind. Lines one and two contain the common iambic meter found

throughout the poem. "Sea Fever" may be categorized as a sea

chantey due to its iambic meter and natural rhythm which gives it a

song like quality. This song like quality is created through the

use of iambic meter and alliteration. For example, lines three

and ten contain the repeated consonant sound of the letter "w".

In line three, the meter becomes spondaic through the use of

strongly stressed syllables. These spondees suggest the repeated

slapping of waves against the bow of the ship. As a result, John

Masefield creates an image of powerful ocean swells. In addition

to the meter suggesting the repeated slap of the waves, "the

wheel's kick" is a reference to the ship's steering wheel spinning

out of control. To further support the theory of the waves

slapping against the bow, "The wheels kick" suggests that the

tall ship is traversing very storm seas. Through the combining of

iambic and spondaic meter, "Sea Fever" not only gains a magnificent

rhythm, but gives clues into the location and movement of the tall


Perhaps, the most striking characteristic of "Sea Fever" is

the remarkable imagery seen on each line throughout the poem.

Images of a "gray mist" and a "gray dawn breaking" bring the poem

to life by appealing to the senses. The powerful images bring the

reader to the ocean and help the reader understand the strong

longing the speaker has for the sea. Through the use of

descriptive adjectives, the effectiveness of Masefield's imagery is

increased. Specifically, words such as "whetted" and "flung" help

create a realistic picture of the sea. Images of a "wild call" and

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