Analysis Dover Beach

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Where can one find human joy? Can a glorious natural landscape bring contentment, or is it faith in a higher power that gives people the ability to be happy? According to Matthew Arnold's 1867 poem "Dover Beach," only a faithful attachment to another human being brings happiness in a relentlessly miserable and increasingly faithless world. In the this stanza, Arnold leaves behind the English Channel and the Aegean Sea to examine a purely metaphorical sea, the Sea of Faith. "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." The poet views human faith as a force that once encompassed the earth in its light, but now that faith is retreating like an ebb tide, leaving the earth barren and dreary. While the previous stanza described the tide of human sadness as eternal, this stanza implies that this sadness has recently been worsened by the degeneration of faith, either to a higher power or toward one another.Arnold names faithful love as the only antidote to human misery. "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." The poet claims that the dazzling beauties of the natural world contain no true joy for humanity. Instead, we make our way through the world like soldiers caught up in a night battle, frightened, confused, knowing neither why we fight nor whom we struggle against. Only by remaining

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