Warm weather, sunshine – it’s that time of year when the coast calls to many, and the great exodus to the beach is well underway.
With its ever changing color, light, and moods the sea has inspired writers and artists for centuries.
The title of the blog is the opening few words of one of my favorite poems, Sea Fever by John Masefield. Here is the poem for you to enjoy:
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.
Winslow Homer, who many consider one of the greatest painters of the nineteenth century, was also moved by the mighty ocean, and created an amazing body of seascapes.
A former printmaker, Homer’s subjects were many and varied. As an artist/jounalist for the publication Harper’s Weekly, he depicted scenes from the American Civil War. He went on to portray women and children at play and at work and going about their everyday life.
He moved, in 1883 to Prout’s Neck, Maine, where he lived for the rest of his life. Homer captured scenes of man’s struggle with the mighty ocean and then, as told by Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website, “Homer left narrative behind to concentrate on the beauty, force, and drama of the sea itself. In their dynamic compositions and richly textured passages, his late seascapes capture the look and feel (and even suggest the sound) of masses of onrushing and receding water.”
This certainly is true of his painting “Northeaster” painted in 1895 and later reworked by the artist. Looking at the crashing waves, one can almost hear the thundering noise and smell and feel the spray of the salt water. I think it truly captures the magnificence of the sea and its movements.
Do yourself a favor and look into the paintings of this great artist. While you’re at it, see how many seascapes by other artists and poems about the ocean you can find. If you can’t get to the coast in person, these will certainly take you there in spirit.
Thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website, metmuseum.org.
Florence Blog Post written by Becky Stragand
Becky Stragand is a writer and retired educator who enjoys books, interior design, and tending to her cats. She lives in West Jefferson with her husband and felines.