Back to top

dover beach


Matthew Arnold: Dover Beach

    Dover Beach

    Matthew Arnold

    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 he 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.

    This poem is one of many published by the EServer, a nonprofit collective.