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
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
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.
 “Sea-Fever” was Olga’s
favorite poem. It had a special meaning
for her as a teenager living near the ocean in San Francisco. In her final years she shared it with Dan. He would read it to her when she was
bedridden because of her chemotherapy.
When Olga died, Dan—with Jim and Butch present—read it to her one last
time. After he and the hospice nurse
prepared her body for retrieval, dressing her in her favorite blouse and pajama
bottoms, Dan printed a copy of the poem, rolled it up, and placed it in her
hands. Once outside, he, Butch, and Dad
watched as the body, now sealed and covered, was rolled out on a gurney and
placed in the hearse. Butch wrapped his
arms around them both as the car, like a vessel carrying a body out to sea,
rolled out of the driveway and took Mom away.
The last two lines of “Sea-Fever,” Dan feels, will never be the