“Down to the seas again,” when Miss Rabbage read the words by John Masefield, there was only one place that came to mind – Lyme Regis.
Lyme Regis is a small and unassuming English seaside town, reached by a very steep descent which seems to become even steeper when you seek to return.
It was a place where the Nazi army planned to land in 1940, which only goes to show how absurd were the Nazi plans. No tank would ever have made it up the hill, the entire landing force would have been trapped on the beach.
Dad loved the sea and Lyme Regis was his favourite place. He loved the small boats that headed out into the waters of the English Channel. He loved standing with a rod and line in the hope of a catch in the waters of the harbour.
Dad loved the lines of John Masefield’s Sea Fever. It is a poem always inspired my childish imaginings. I would visualise a ship moving through the darkness beneath a clear starry sky.
“And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over,” wrote Masefield at the end of the poem. It seems a perfect line to remember Dad on the second anniversary of his death.
May Dad rest easy and dream sweetly and may he stand on the Cobb at Lyme looking out at the boats.
And, when my times are past, may I sit on a bench against the grey stone wall and eat fish and chips and talk with him about the times we spent together.
I must 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 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 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.