Brian’s Reflection: Monday, June 1, 2009
I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky;
and all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by.
- John Masefield, poet, born on
this date, 1878, Herefordshire
Do young people learn poems by heart anymore? There are a few I learned as a kid that I still remember to this day – and this one by John Masefield is one of them. Masefield was Poet Laureate of England (1930-67) when I was a schoolboy. I remember being called upon to “declaim” – and, being a little ham, I loved it. I couldn’t throw a football, but I could recite poetry! Two other favourites: “Ozymandias”, and “Abou ben Adam”.
There is another line I remember affecting me: “I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life”. I indeed have spent much of my life on the go – and I am glad that I have. But not only my “outer” life, but my “inner” life has had that quality. I didn’t actually cultivate it; I feel it was just a given of being me. I was centered in Christianity, having been sent as a child to the Presbyterian Church. But from there I in a sense chose a “vagrant gypsy” life. Chose Anglicanism/sacramentalism, monastic life, parish ministry (though it chose me rather than the other way around). And new ideas and paths just keep coming! At 62, I keep coming across things that amaze me, intrigue me, confuse me, thrill me. I think it will go on – and I want it to. Coming to a halt in the “inner” life doesn’t seem appropriate – it would be a too-soon death.
The “star to steer her by” has turned out to be Mystery. And the great thing is, Mystery never runs out of the World. I like the “vagrant Gypsy life” !