Dover Beach Essay

921 Words4 Pages
Dover Beach At this point the "Sea of Faith" rises, symbolic of a time when religion was simple, unpolluted by the doubts brought about by progress and science. Finally, the sea recedes, just as the certainty of religion withdraws itself from the human grasp, leaving only darkness behind. The reader can feel the ebb and flow of the tides as he contemplates the meaning behind these lines. It is surely ironic that the poet, Matthew Arnold, himself an agnostic, should write a lament to the world's loss of religious faith at a time when science and industry were taking centre stage. Written around 1851, "Dover Beach" was not published until 1867. This poem consists of five uneven stanzas, into which I have divided the poem for ease of analysis. "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! In this first stanza the speaker is depicted standing at a window looking out at the sea. In this introduction he describes the sea in a very positive way. He uses adjectives such as "calm", "fair" and "tranquil" to create a harmonious mood. He seems to be addressing a loved one, whom he begs to "Come to the window, sweet is the night air!" It sounds like a romantic invitation to share the lovely scene: "The sea is calm tonight / The tide is full, the moon lies fair." But that is not the case, as the reader discovers later in the poem. 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. Here the

More about Dover Beach Essay

Open Document