As I stood in Halifax’s Grand Parade (square) looking down George Street to the harbour, I was thinking of the WordPress weekly photo challenge “Descent” and the first words of Masefield’s poem came to me.
BY 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.
We had gone to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the weekend. We took the ferry from Wood Islands, PEI, to Caribou, Nova Scotia; it was cold and windy and there were no fishing boats in the harbours or ships on the Northumberland Strait.
Fifty years ago, at the foot of George street, a dock, boats and ships would have been visible. In late October now, in Halifax, ships are few and far between. All the yachts and tourist excursion boats and the Bluenose II have been put away for the winter. The cruise season is over. The container port and the Coast Guard docks are beyond the downtown.
So, these are photos of boats, not ships; but the sailors on them do go down to the sea. In the background both of these pictures, you can see ships on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour where the “working” aspect of seafaring continues.