This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Return to Sorrento (3rd class) by Spike Milligan.

Most jokes wear thin rather quickly, but some give joy for ever.
Spike Milligan's take on John Masefield's poem is short enough to quote in full, though it's not easy to find a definitive version as far as details of punctuation are concerned.

I suppose that's one of the features of a truly great poem: people have taken it to their hearts, and, believing this means they've got it by heart, they don't bother with looking it up before they write it down.
This, as far as I can tell, is how the glorious Return to Sorrento (3rd class) goes:
"I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my vest and socks there -
I wonder if they're dry."
I hope it gives you joy for ever, too.
Word To Use Today: vest. This word comes from the Old French vestir, to clothe, from the Latin vestis, which means clothing.
I suppose I should mention, before people start jumping up and down on me, that in the original Masefield poem the first line has seas, and not sea; though personally I can't see that it matters here one way or the other.


  1. Lovely! And I didn't know it! Made my day...

  2. The other interesting thing is that he used a new title, rather than use a pun on Masefield's original title Sea Fever.

    Sorrento is a beautiful resort on the Italian Amalfi coast, and I am wondering whether this especially refers to some time spent there during his war service. Perhaps beneath the humour, he had a longing to go back there. You could read his title as someone asking for a ticket at a booking office: "Return to Sorrento, third class (please)."

    1. Thanks for this, Andy. Yes, perhaps it's as you say. Of course there's also the sharpess of that THIRD CLASS, though. The fact that you're risking your life for democracy hasn't made anyone grateful enough to guarantee you a seat.
      And it's a return: only a mini-break in Paradise, if Paradise is what it was at the time.
      I'd need to know more about Sorrento in WW2 to understand that.