Dover Beach- Summary & Analysis

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About the Poem “Dover Beach

Poem TitleDover Beach
AuthorMatthew Arnold
Year of Publication1867
GenreLyric poetry
Poetic FormLyric poem, written in free verse
ThemeThe decline of religious faith in the modern world
SettingThe poem is set at Dover, a coastal town in England
Structure4 Stanza, 37 lines
Key imageryThe sea, the cliffs of England, the moon, and the stars
Key symbolsThe sea of faith, the naked shingles of the world, the ignorant armies clashing by night

Themes of Dover Beach

The themes of the poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold are:

  1. Loss of Faith ➤ The poem explores the decline of religious and moral certainty.
  2. Human Fragility ➤ It highlights the fleeting and fragile nature of human existence.
  3. Contrast Between Nature and Humanity ➤ The poem contrasts the calm sea and natural world with the turbulent and uncertain human emotions.

Dover Beach” Poem by Matthew Arnold

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!

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 Ægean, 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.

Watch Dover Beach Full Poem Sumamry

Dover Beach Summary & Analysis

Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold is a dramatic monologue in which the speaker, standing on the shore of the English Channel, contemplates the loss of faith in the modern world. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of this theme.

Stanza 1

The speaker begins by describing the natural beauty of the scene before him: the calm sea, the moonlit cliffs, and the distant lights of France. However, this beauty is tempered by the speaker’s awareness of the changes that have taken place in the world around him. He laments the loss of the old order, in which faith provided a sense of meaning and purpose.

Stanza 2

The speaker turns his attention to the English Channel, which separates England from France. He sees a small light on the French coast, which he compares to the “sea of faith” that once united all of Christendom. However, this light is fading, and the speaker fears that the world is losing its religious faith.

Stanza 3

The speaker explains that the rise of science and modernism has led to a decline in faith. He compares the sea of faith to the tide, which once rose to cover the entire world, but is now receding. He fears that the world is becoming increasingly dark and chaotic, and that there is no longer any certainty or meaning in life.

Stanza 4

The speaker concludes the poem by addressing his beloved. He urges her to cling to their love as the only source of comfort and meaning in a world that is otherwise desolate and unforgiving.

FAQs from Dover Beach

What is the main idea of the poem Dover Beach?

The main idea of the poem “Dover Beach” is the loss of faith in the modern world.

What is the main metaphor in Dover Beach?

The main metaphor in Dover Beach is the Sea of Faith, which represents the religious beliefs that once sustained humanity but are now receding.

What happened to the Sea of Faith in Dover Beach?

The Sea of Faith in Dover Beach has receded, leaving people feeling lost and alone.

Why is Dover Beach so famous?

Dover Beach is famous for its exploration of the loss of faith in the modern world and its powerful message of hope in the face of despair.

What is the conclusion of poem dover beach?

The conclusion of the poem “Dover Beach” is that the speaker finds solace in the love of his companion in a world without faith or certainty.

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