“I must go down
to the seas again,
to the lonely
sea and the sky…”
About This Listing
This listing is for a hand-painted clay pendant featuring an intricate gouache seascape inspired by the John Masefield's poem "Sea Fever." The pendants are finished with two coats of UV-resistant gloss varnish on the front, and left unvarnished on the back so as to highlight the gritty earthen texture of the fired clay. They are signed and dated by the artist on the back. Each pendant measures approximately 1.5 inches in diameter and comes with a 21-inch silver-plated figaro chain. It will be packaged in a decorative Kraft jewelry box with velvety black backing, and accompanied by a printed label detailing the specifications of the piece and including the quotation that inspired it.
Because these pendants are handmade and hand-painted, no two are identical, although all share the same colors and general design. Thus, the pendant you receive may not be exactly the same as the ones highlighted in the photos, but will be its own unique and original work of art.
To ensure a long life for your hand-painted pendant, keep it dry and take care not to drop it or scratch the surface. Dust as needed with a clean microfiber cloth.
English Poet Laureate John Masefield’s Big Hit was his 1902 poem, “Sea Fever"—twelve lines of unabashed revelry in maritime imagery. I like “Sea Fever” because I picked it as a memorization text one school-term in childhood, and the joy of satisfying my course requirements with a piece I cared for so ardently that to memorize it felt like play is a satisfaction that is with me still. Also, I like it because it gave me the language to talk about a specific longing I find both in myself and in the world: sea fever.
Masefield isn’t the only one who has been afflicted by this particularly robust desire to be oceanside. “Searching my heart for its true sorrow,” Edna St. Vincent Millay’s 1921 poem “Exiled” explains, “this is the thing I find to be: that I am weary of words and people, sick of the city, wanting the sea.” Sara Teasdale’s bestselling 1915 poetry collection Rivers to the Sea includes a piece called “Sea Longing,” which proclaims: “The windy waves mount up and curve and fall, and round the rocks the foam blows up like snow,—tho' I am inland far, I hear and know, for I was born the sea's eternal thrall.” And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow tells us in his 1850 poem “The Secret of the Sea,” “my soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” Aimee Nezhukumatathil, one of my favorite contemporary poets, has explored sea life in two volumes of vivid verse. Her 2018 poem “Sea Church” begins “give me a church made entirely of salt” and I intimately know that urge to carry all my reverence to the water’s edge and hold the tiniest worship service—one in which no one is claiming to speak for God and the shore’s very loud and muddy birds are welcome.
So what’s up with sea fever? What’s up with this weird hunger to smell briny air and watch white water tumble and crash? Why is the unmelodious chatter of gulls—a set of not-very-nice fowl, if we’re being honest—so widely-employed in literature and art to evoke a human experience that’s certainly something like sacred? I find it interesting that most of the poets and writers who describe the thing Masefield calls “sea fever” don’t seem to feel any need to exposit its meaning or explain its keen emotional impact. No, they’re quite happy to reference it in passing, evidently confident we’ll know precisely what they’re talking about. And in some sense that hovers at a level just deeper than language, don’t we?
But I have a hunch sea fever is this: our restless insistence on transcendence is stirring about a little in its sleep, sitting up in the bed perhaps and rubbing its eyes in the dark. Where am I? it asks, groping about in the silent room with only the ticking of the clock for company. How did I get here? Where am I going?
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© 2023 Bryana Joy
The artist retains all copyrights.