Matthew Arnold
Dover Beach (c. 1851)

The sea is calm tonight,

 

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

 

Upon the straits; on the French coast the light

4

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

8

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,

12

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

 

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring

 

The eternal note of sadness in.

 

 

 

Sophocles long ago

16

Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought

 

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

 

Of human misery; we

 

Find also in the sound a thought,

20

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.

24

But now I only hear

 

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

 

Retreating, to the breath

 

Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear

28

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,

32

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

36

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

 

Where ignorant armies clash by night.

 


23. furled: rolled or folded up.