Saturday, November 14, 2015

Dover Beach, by Matthew Arnold

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 Aegean, 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.

Courtesy of PoetryFoundation


  1. I need to read Matthew Arnold. Perfect.

  2. Always one of my favorite poems, but I hadn't read it in a long time. Thank you for the reminder. Written generations ago, but how very, very appropriate for our times. Mary

  3. Thank you for posting this poem today. Somehow, it helps.

  4. Marie, Thank you for this response. My husband and I lived and met in France. My parents are there.We love it so very much. Sending you and Vince, even though we've never met or even spoken, as well as all our french and francofile and simply good loving people, our love.
    Natasha in Denver

  5. I didn't cry until I read this.

  6. Marie, a very moving and most appropriate choice. Do you ever read the delightful blog of Carol Gillott, an American now living in Paris? I follow her blog "Paris Breakfasts" regularly and was relieved to learn she is safe. Our world has become so strange & rather horrifying. It's important, I think, for us gardeners/cooks/painters/writers whatever to keep a fine balance and continue to seek out the joy and share it, as you so magnificently do.
    Diane in a saddened
    and sympathetic Denver


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