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Sea Fever

John Masefield

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to go or not to go
Added by: Seth Eben Shapiro, J.D.
I have seen this poem limned in two forms "I must down" and "I must go down". Equally prestigious sites have different versions. I learned it first in 1958 as "I must down". has anyone any solid scholarship on this issue?"
Added by: Derek Waters
I quote the Columbia World of Quotations, 1996, no. 38201 Attribution as it appears on the bartleby.com website which quotes the line without the word 'go':

The line appears as ?I must go down to the seas again ... ? in some collections, and in John Ireland?s musical setting of the poem; though apparently not in Masefield?s drafts, nor in the first published version.
Sea Fever
Added by: Hugh Hodge
In a recording by the author himself, Masefield used the "go" version.
Added by: Jeanne Misiewicz
Omitting the word go in the first lines is significant. Down can be meant as sleeping with the sea, as in bedding down for the night. Down is synonymous with the word low, as in cattle lowing. An inherent behavior in those creatures. The word down is close phonetically and in meaning to the word bow. Not only a nautical term but a term depicting respect as well.
All of these examples relate the emotional aspect of his respect for the ocean. Adding the word "go" makes it easy for the reader to understand but the conveyance of emotion is lost.
Added by: Joel Emery
The "go" is necessary if the rhythm is to be consistent.
hey yall
Added by: Alyssa Korthauer
i like this poem so much. i like to read, and stay in the library all day. my favorite place is the library and museums. its kind of close....
Added by: kala
this is a great poem. it shows everyting you are looking for and what you want

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