Sea Fever by John Masefield

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

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Sea Fever Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Sea Fever Include:

”Sea Fever” is one of English poet John Masefield’s best-known works. Masefield employs many poetic devices in his lyric poem, effectively conveying the speaker’s wanderlust and love of the seafaring life. A seaman himself, Masefield relied on his own experience to create the vivid imagery of the poem. Figurative language, alliteration, regular rhyme, and even the sing-song rhythm help bring to life the experience of a sailor at sea. Young students of poetry will find this an accessible introduction to many of poetry’s most effective conventions.

Sea Fever Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

“Sea Fever” Imagery

The vivid imagery in “Sea Fever” helps establish the poem’s setting, tone, and point of view. Aside from conveying a multi-sensory depiction of the sea, the imagery reveals the speaker’s extreme familiarity with and fondness for the sea. His loving descriptions of life on the ocean establish the passionate, yearning tone of the poem. Have students identify examples of imagery in the poem with the help of storyboards. You can direct students to find particular types of imagery (visual, auditory, or tactile for this poem) or simply ask them to label the examples that they find.

“Sea Fever” Imagery


"a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking"


"the sea gulls crying"


"the flung spray and the blown spume"

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“Sea Fever” Figurative Language

“Sea Fever” contains multiple instances of figurative language, particularly personification. Students can deepen their understanding of the poem by locating examples of figurative language and analyzing their effect on the poem. For each example of figurative language students locate, have them create a storyboard square depicting the intended meaning. Then, below the square, ask students to explain how that figurative language increases their understanding of the poem. For example, the figurative language might reveal the speaker’s relationship with the sea more clearly, it might contribute to the tone of the poem, or it might illustrate the setting.

“Sea Fever” Figurative Language

“sea’s face”

Calling the surface of the water a "face" suggests that the sailor has a personal relationship with the sea. Just as we can tell a person's emotions by looking at their face, the sailor can read the mood of the sea by looking at it.

“call of the running tide”

The tide is personified when it seems to call out to the sailor. This reinforces the idea that the sea has a mind and emotions of its own. It also suggests a kind of hypnotic power that the sea has over the sailor. To a certain degree, the sailor feels almost forced to go to sea.

“wind’s song”

The wind, like the sea, comes alive in this poem. It too is personified when it is said to be singing. The word "song" suggests a beautiful and melodious sound, emphasizing the sailor's positive experience of the sea.

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“Sea Fever” TPCASTT

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TPCASTT Example for “Sea Fever”



The poem will be about a sailor who becomes ill at sea.


A former sailor longs to return to the sea. He loves everything about the sea and will not be happy again until he can visit it again. His desire is so strong, it is almost a compulsion.


Masefield's personification humanizes the sea and suggests that the speaker shares a personal relationship with the wind and water. The cold, gray setting is portrayed as beautiful and invigorating.


The speaker's repetition of the opening line, "I must go down to the seas again", creates a sense of compulsion. The tone is one of passionate yearning.


The poem does not shift. Each stanza repeats the speaker's desire to return to the sea, providing different memories that the speaker treasures. The poem's consistent message emphasizes the strength of the sailor's call and evokes the repetitive sound of the ocean waves.


After reading the poem, I see that the fever is not an illness, but an obsession. The poem is about a man obsessed with the sea and feverishly dreaming of another, perhaps a final, trip to sea.


The speaker is restless until he can follow his heart and return to sea. The poem suggests that contentment can be found in pursuing what you love.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Perform a TPCASTT analysis of “Sea Fever”. Remember that TPCASTT stands for Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude/Tone, Shift, Title, Theme.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Choose any combination of scenes, characters, items, and text to represent each letter of TPCASTT.
  3. Write a few sentences describing the importance or meaning of the images.
  4. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.
  5. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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”Sea Fever” first appeared in John Masefield’s 1902 poetry collection, Salt-Water Ballads. The collection was influenced by Masefield’s own years spent at sea during his teens. Unhappy at boarding school, Masefield left to become a merchant seaman at the age of 15. His love of the sea and awe of the nature that surrounded him permeate his poetry. Students reading “Sea Fever” will find Masefield’s enthusiasm evident, but may need some background on a few nautical terms listed below.

Wheel’s kick: the jerking left and right movements of the ship’s wheel

Long trick: a period of duty; figuratively death

Star to steer her by: Nautical navigators used to rely on the positions of the stars to determine their location at sea. Sailors would use a tool called a sextant to measure the angle from the horizon to the sun or an evening star. The angle and time of day would then be used to calculate a ship’s latitude.

Essential Questions for ”Sea Fever”

  1. How do the experiences of our past influence our desires in the present?
  2. How does the poem’s figurative language affect its tone?
  3. What connection is there between a journey at sea and the journey of life?

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•   (English) Sea Fever   •   (Español) Fiebre del mar   •   (Français) Fièvre de mer   •   (Deutsch) Seefieber   •   (Italiana) La Febbre del Mare   •   (Nederlands) Zeekoors   •   (Português) Febre do mar   •   (עברית) קדחת ים   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) حمى البحر   •   (हिन्दी) सागर बुखार   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Морская Лихорадка   •   (Dansk) Sea Feber   •   (Svenska) Sea Feber   •   (Suomi) Sea Fever   •   (Norsk) Sea Feber   •   (Türkçe) Deniz Ateşi   •   (Polski) Gorączka Morska   •   (Româna) Sea Fever   •   (Ceština) Mořská Horečka   •   (Slovenský) Morská Horúčka   •   (Magyar) Sea Fever   •   (Hrvatski) Morska Groznica   •   (български) Морска Треска   •   (Lietuvos) Jūros Karščiavimas   •   (Slovenščina) Sea Fever   •   (Latvijas) Jūras Drudzis   •   (eesti) Sea Fever