Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold is a short lyric poem that was published in 1867. It is arguably Matthew’s most famous poem that comments on his recurring themes regardless of its length. He begins with a detailed and naturalistic nightscape of the beach at Dover where auditory imagery plays a significant role. Another powerful aspect of the poem is that Matthew’s romantic streak is not associated with the religion. Instead, Matthew talks about the ‘Sea of Faith’ without associating it to any heaven or deity. Ideally, this faith has a specific humanist tinge that appears to have once smoothed and guided decisions over problems in the world. Hence, tying all people together is a wise way. Through the poem’s most famous stanza that evaluates his experience to that of Sophocles, Arnold explores every contradiction.
Notably, Arnold focuses on two key aspects of this scene, both in the second and first stanza and the withdrawing action of the tide. He hears ‘the eternal note of sadness’ the sound of the sea. After examining the soundscape, he gets back to the action the tide sees in its retreat a symbol for having lost faith in the modern age. Ideally, the fourth stanza does not start sadness but with an image. The last stanza starts with a love appeal, and moves further to the famous ending metaphor. Markedly, this is a stand against a world of broken faith.
The poem’s discussion shifts symbolically and literally from the present, from the present to Sophocles on the Aegean. Arnold is worried that the chaos of the modern world will be awesome, and that she will be amazed at discovering that mankind is gearing up for destruction even in the presence of great beauty such as one seen outside the window. However, he hopes that they may use the very moment to unite them in spite of such uncertainty, behind the appearance of faith.
Notably, the poem symbolizes a definite type of poetic experience where the poet concentrates on a single moment to discover deep depths. When studying the landscape, the speaker feels that the moment is the visceral serenity and the paradoxical fear that the composure makes him feel. To accomplish this, the poem uses much sensory information and imagery. It starts with visual descriptions that describe the fair moon, the calm sea, and the lights in France across the Channel. Most captivatingly, the first stanza connects from visual to auditory descriptions, including ‘the tremulous cadence slow’ and ‘the granting roar’. The suggestion of various senses creates the sense of an all-encompassing and overwhelming moment and fills out the experience more.
Additionally, the poem employs the poetic skill of leaving a sentence incomplete on one line, to go on and finish it with the next sentence. Ideally, this effect gives the poem a quicker pace where the information hits us in fast succession, forming a vivid picture in our minds bit by bit. Additionally, it suggests that it is not Arnold’s wish to develop an attractive picture that is meant to reflect. Instead, the cute sight is coherent because of the anxiety and fear it inspires in the speaker. Since the poem is very wonderfully spans the line between desperate uncertainty and poetic reflection. It has maintained a well-loved piece all through the centuries.