Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A bit of nostalgia for Survey of English Lit

Ever wake up with lines of poetry running through your head? That was me the other day. Funny thing was, I hadn't read this poem since college. Of course, it's a poem every good student of English knows. If you don't know it, feel free to enjoy for the first time...

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-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 Agaean, 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.

...And its parody, The Dover Bitch.


  1. Oh, lovely. I hadn't read that in over a decade.

  2. Isn't it? And sad. Sticks with you, though (which is probably why I woke up thinking about it).

  3. Ha, synchronicity strikes again!

    I've been limping along three pages behind the current Slacktivist discussion, not daring to comment so far after the fact.

    But somebody wondered what a world without color or the remembered experience of color would feel like, and my immediate response was, "Dover Beach, that's what."