Friday, October 1, 2010

"Dover Beach"

                                           Dover Beach  
                                          Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

THE SEA is calm to-night,
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.        5
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,        10
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        15
Heard it on the Ægæan, 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.        20

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,        25
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        30
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        35
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.  




  1. I think poem has a historical significance. I'm to sure if it's the French Revolution, or some type of war between the English and the French. Lines 35-37 express that this person that Mr. Arnold has created, is on the the French side of this war. "And we are here as a darkling plain, Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night." These "ignorant armies" are the English. Lines 3-4 express that the English are winning this war between the French. It say, "Upon the straits;-on the French coast the light, Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand." What I think Mr. Arnold wanted to express in this poem is the emotions that war/battles have on people who are not winning the fight. It's a sad and depressing emotion. Mr. Balgley I would really like to know the historical significance of this poem. :)

  2. I agree with Brittany this does seem to be a poem about war. The poet is expressing how painful it is to be at war but notes the beautiful scenery. I can tell that the poet is against war and says that the fighting is useless and the people scared and confused.

  3. I agree with Brittany as well, this poem has a lot of history on the aftermath of war! This poem shows a peaceful and wisdom-full mood. This could just be a thought process of an old man who has recently had a tragety within his life! Maybe hes just telling his life story, which ironically has some refrence to the idea of war. This may mean that all humans exspiernece war within themselves, and throughout thier life - this may not have, to be an actual war like WW2 or the French Revolution, but in some cases this may mean a war between siblings, or a enternal war in which someone is fighting to survive cancer!

    This makes me think of all the reasons why someone would enter in an actual war! Do they do it for thier country? Or is it just to kill a man? Is it to protect someone they love? How could one man really kill another? What forces within us gives us humans the strenght to destroy anothers life? Or to even damage ones body?

    Why do most people realte fighting to the only option? What happened to Peace and Love? Where is the Peace and Love when someone is lunging thier knife into another persons face? Where is the love? I wonder why its beens thousands of years of Human life, and we still resort to violence to solve problems? Why???!?

  4. I must agree with Raymond on the questions he bought up. People fight for many resasons. whether to fight for their country or to put a bayonet in their enemy. This poem shows two sides fighting to win the war.