Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold | Analysis

Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold : Critical Appreciation

Introduction :

The Poem entitled “Dover Beach” is written by Matthew Arnold. This was published in 1867. The Poet has expressed Pessimism. In this Poem, The World is full of Misery.

Even the Greek Poet Sophocles sang it. In Olden times, Men had faith and love for each other but, Now, They have lost and fight with each other. The Poet is reminded of it by ebbing of the sea at the Dover Beach.

Theme :

In Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold captures beautifully the Poet’s deep dissatisfaction with his age and its loss of faith.

First stanza :

In the first stanza, the poet sees the calm sea in full tide at the Dover Beach.

“The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, “

Second stanza :

In the Second Stanza, the Roar of the ebbing sea strikes a note of sadness in his mind.

“Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in. “

Third stanza :

In the third stanza, He says that Sophocles was reminded of Human misery as he heard the roar of sea waves at
the Greek Coast.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery;

Sophocles was one of the greatest of ancient greek dramatist of 5th century B.C. He heard the sad music of the Aegean Sea and reminded of the inflow and outflow of human misery. Arnold also heard the same music of sadness at Dover Beach.

Fourth Stanza :

In fourth stanza, Poet says that the sea of faith was once at the full round Earth’s Shore. But, it is now retreating or decreasing.

There is no joy, love, peace or help left in this world. It is a dark place where ignorant people are struggling against each other knowing not why.

” 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”

Last 5th Sanza :

In the last stanza, He asks us to love each other as this world is really a joyless place. A man can get light in this dark world through love alone.

According to Matthew Arnold, the only cure to the world’s ill is love, to be true to each other. He Wants us to learn –

“Ah, love, let us be true
To one another!”

Expression :

The idea is expressed in the form of a beautiful Metaphor. Humanity is presented as a sea shore, Faith as the sea. In the olden times, the heart of man was full of faith like a beach covered with sea water.

But, today, the human heart is dry like a beach at ebb-tide. The dry and soulless religious customs are presented like pebbles on sea beach.

Pictorial Power :

Poet presents beautiful and effective picture of Dover Beach. He presents a picture of great beauty vivid and clear. The sound of the waves is also beautifully captured.

Note of Sadness :

This poem has a note of sadness and dissatisfaction that is common in Arnold’s writtings. This Poem has a Sad music.

The Roaring sound of the waves tells the ebb and flow of human misery. It is eternal. Man has been miserable creature forever.

“The Eternal note of sadness.”

Naturalness :

Matthew Arnold describes the landscape in a way that the Reader is easily able to visualize the naturalness of landscape.

” French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, “

Need for a positive faith :

Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold expresses the need for a positive faith. Poet wants a true faith in people. There is complete spiritual darkness and no one knows that what is true and what is false.

Men quarrel over these false beliefs in this world. None knows who is right and who is wrong.

“And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,”

Arnold realises that faith has disappeared from this world. We need a positive faith in our life.

True Love as a consolation :

Matthew Arnold says that if there is any consolation in this world. It is only true love. The only cure of this world’s ills is love, to be true to each other and love guides us in our life if we are true to each other. He says :

“Ah, love let us be true
to one another !”

Use of Epithets :

When we analyse the Poem of Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold. We find that Arnold does not use colour epithets anywhere in this poem. Even, in the first stanza where he describes the landscape, No colour epithet is used.

But, this deficiency does not effect the literary merit of the poem. Arnold describes the landscape in a way that a reader is easily able to visualise the landscape and its varied colours.

” French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; “

We can very easily visualise the colours here. When He speaks of the “the moon-blanched land” . He can see the sandy place shining white in the moon light.

Concept of Nature :

According to Matthew Arnold, Nature is quite indifferent to man. Nature does not give any joy, peace, love and help to man.

He has to manage all these things on the basis of each other’s help. For wordsworth, “Man is foster child of nature“.

Conclusion : Critical Note

Thus, Dover Beach is one of the Matthew Arnold’s Famous Poems. It has sad tone and expresses Arnold’s sorrow at the loss of faith in the modern world and learns us to be true to each other.

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