I Must Go Down to the Sea - John Masefield
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.
I came across this poem today and it occurred to me that I'd like to have this read at my wake. Remember the Star Trek: TNG episode where Capt. Picard is suddenly immersed in the life of a family of a long-gone civilization on another planet? This is a poem which can do that briefly, albeit on a small scale. It has the feel of being a plein air poem, perhaps partially written on the spot, denoting the human experience of exhilaration. The last line makes it a bit funereal which is why it would be especially well-suited to a wake reading.