Dover Beach

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.
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,
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 {AE}gean, 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 furl'd.
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.

by Matthew Arnold

Other poems of ARNOLD (62)

Comments (58)

I have loved this poem since childhood, about 75 years. It and I resonate....I am now 85. Egad! 28/10/2018
My thoughts were rejected by this web page because they were too many characters. Apparently, anything longer than a couple of fortune cookie fortunes is just too many words for this site. You need to include a character counter.
I think the poem expresses beautifully Arnold’s concern about the decline of religious faith in his time and his fear for humanity as a result. He’s suggesting that without faith “we are here as on a darkling plain, swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night.”
Pretty tough to understand
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