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


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 Aegean, 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.


23. furled: rolled or folded up.