Describe The Poem "Dover Beach" By Mathew Arnold?


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Sajid Majeed Profile
Sajid Majeed answered
In this poem Mathew Arnold feels regret at the people's indifference towards faith and religion. But he believes that all confusion and cruelty can go only if love is allowed to reign supreme in the world. He is standing beside the window with his beloved and is looking at the sea. The moon is shining and the sea is calm and peaceful. There are beautiful lights shining on the French coast while on the English coast the cliffs are standing majestically. The waves of the sea lift small pebbles and throw them over the sands. There is a note of sadness in the roar of the sea.

He recalls that the same roar had forced Sophocles to write tragedies. Now, it tells him the waning power of religion in the world. He compares religion with the sea. The sea of faith was once full and powerful. People loved their religion. They believed in God. They loved one another. Thus life was full of joys. But now things have changed. Every body is hankering after pelf, poser and position. The world appears beautiful. But inwardly it is full of pains and perils. It has become a battle-field where there is nothing but moans and groans and strife and struggle. The poet thinks that this battle-field can become an earthly paradise if people learn to love each other.

The poem is symbolic. Here the sea stands for fate. The pebbles are human beings. The sea of fate lifts them and throws them away. Retreating of the sea shows the lessening of people's interest in religion.
Patricia Devereux Profile
Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach" epitomizes his recurring themes of the alienation of modern, industrialized life; his personal loneliness and isolation as a lover; and sorrow at the passing of his youth.

The speaker of the poem stands on a brilliant, moonlit night facing France from the white cliffs of Dover. He entreats his lover to join him at the window to admire the beauty.
"The grating roar" of the waves on the shore's rocks comes to symbolize to the narrator the thunderous voice of the Creator, with its "eternal note of sadness" over mankind's failings. The poet recalls Sophocles' characterization of the sea's noise as "the turbid ebb and flow/Of human misery."

This musing becomes a lament for how modern man (in Arnold's Victorian era) hearkens to God's voice less and less, so that "now I only hear/Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar."
In fright, the speaker exhorts his young love to find solace in the only constant left -- each other -- because the world "Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,/Nor certitude nor peace, nor help for pain."

Like Shakespeare's characterization of the human condition as just "sound and fury signifying nothing," Arnold believes life has become little but "a darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,/Where ignorant armies clash by night."

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