Friday, August 31, 2012


DOVER BEACH



The sea is calm tonight, 
The tide is full, the moon lies fair 
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light 
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, 
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. 


Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray 
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.


Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.


The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.


Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


~ Matthew Arnold (1867)

3 comments:

  1. I love this poem!

    Last year in the British Literature course that I taught, we did a "mini lesson" on Dover, which is also mentioned in John Milton's Paradise Lost. We covered a number of Dover references in British Literature and in British culture in general. Of course, my students are too young to know the song "The White Cliffs of Dover," and I did introduce the song to them.

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  2. Pretty bleak. The ocean certainly can summon the eternal but there's no reason to be despondent about it.

    Although I can understand the appeal of his idea of "the Philistines" to you.

    Just another guy who can't handle the hurly-burly of life.

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  3. Ducky,

    You make the moronic assumption that all Leftist, Liberal, Progressive, Marxist, Communist, Socialist, Collectivists and Religious fanatics make: namely that anything incongruent with your particular worldview is untrue, stupid, invalid, inane and not worth considering.

    ~ FT

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