"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

A zillion years ago in a Victorian Lit class in college, the professor required that students memorize "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold. We were reading several of Arnold's essays, esp. "Culture and Anarchy" so reading some of the poems in the same book was CONVENIENT, but the face-making at having to ABSORB something and recite it before the class was HUGE. How DARE this professor at a middling state university require his students memorize & recite a poem like we were in elementary school! And the professor, at the time the head of the department, RELISHED the pained looks we were giving out. "It's important that you have at least one poem in your life you can recite," he admonished. The more time passes, the more I respect that.

The last five lines are the only ones that spill into conscious thought. So, not a poetry share from the core, but as a show of respect for the professor who insisted a room full of 20-something ponces LEARN something. National Poetry Month has only a few days left, so expect the posts to get cruder come May.

Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night.
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 Agean, 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.