Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Matthew Arnold: 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 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 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.

Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) was an English poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. ‘Dover Beach’ is one of the best-known and best-loved of Victorian poems.


5 comments on “Matthew Arnold: Dover Beach

  1. berolahragamatras
    March 21, 2016

    Very Usefull


  2. berolahragamatras
    March 20, 2016

    Amazing Post ,Very Usefull


  3. gene and ruth clark
    March 20, 2016

    This is amazing; I was thinking a couple of weeks ago that “Dover Beach” would be a very good poem to post, and here it is. Most appropriate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vox Populi
      March 20, 2016

      Thanks, Ruth! The poem still holds up after a century and a half.


      • Daniel Burston
        March 21, 2016

        It sure does. Thanks.



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This entry was posted on March 20, 2016 by in Poetry, War and Peace and tagged , .
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