Matthew Arnold

(1822-1888 / Middlesex / England)

Dover Beach - Poem 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-blanch'd 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 {AE}gean, 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 furl'd.
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.

Topic(s) of this poem: beach

Comments about Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

  • (12/15/2018 8:01:00 PM)

    A deeply haunting and incredibly strange poem. A love poem that denies love. It's unstable like the beach. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (10/28/2018 3:54:00 PM)

    I have loved this poem since childhood, about 75 years. It and I resonate....I am now 85. Egad! 28/10/2018 (Report) Reply

  • (9/14/2018 7:45:00 PM)

    My thoughts were rejected by this web page because they were too many characters. Apparently, anything longer than a couple of fortune cookie fortunes is just too many words for this site. You need to include a character counter. (Report) Reply

    (9/14/2018 8:00:00 PM)

    Hmmm. Some people have written longer comments. I do not feel like rewriting mine all over again. Suffice to say that religious faith never covered the world. People just thought it did. The real world is like the tide, which can be counted on to keep flowing in and then ebbing, over and over. Underneath are shifting sands and tumbling stones. Painful, unsteady. Nothing is assured. Cling to relationships for as long as you have them. Struggle on in darkness.

  • (8/6/2018 4:46:00 PM)

    I think the poem expresses beautifully Arnold’s concern about the decline of religious faith in his time and his fear for humanity as a result. He’s suggesting that without faith “we are here as on a darkling plain, swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night.” (Report) Reply

  • (7/14/2018 11:48:00 AM)

    Pretty tough to understand (Report) Reply

  • (7/1/2018 6:22:00 PM)

    Um😐😐😐😐😐😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😶😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐 (Report) Reply

  • (6/22/2018 4:37:00 AM)

    Gud😀😀 (Report) Reply

  • (12/3/2017 9:32:00 AM)

    isko hindi me batao (Report) Reply

  • Samuel Segun Toluwalase (2/17/2017 9:23:00 AM)

    I love this write up and i am tempted to say that heart of Matthew wrote him. Fantastic poem (Report) Reply

  • (1/4/2017 5:19:00 PM)

    tom allport
    having true love? nothing else matters. (Report) Reply

    (1/24/2018 6:47:00 AM)

    lovely comment

  • (12/27/2016 12:07:00 PM)

    Dover Beach Reading (Revised)
    I had to upload a revised recording because the first version was cut short, but here is my reading of Dover Beach:

    https: //
    (Report) Reply

  • Muzahidul Reza (11/2/2016 2:01:00 PM)

    One of the wonderful, meaningful, excellent weitten piece of literature, readin any one must be charmed instantly (Report) Reply

  • Jeanie  Leyba (7/4/2016 4:25:00 AM)

    That was really good and beautiful well written (Report) Reply

  • John Maxwell (5/23/2016 2:25:00 PM)

    Dover Beach is a downright insight into the Bards of old, an you my friend are just one
    of them. Great write and I like your sentence structure.
    John Maxwell
    (Report) Reply

  • Reshma Elza Ulahannan (3/27/2016 2:54:00 AM)

    The Sea of Faith
    Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
    Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
    But now I only hear
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    my favourite lines
    very good poem on beautiful the topic
    Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
    Retreating, to the breath
    (Report) Reply

  • Moira Cameron (3/20/2016 12:07:00 AM)

    The last verse is quite striking - captures the feeling of us vs the world. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/19/2016 12:21:00 PM)

    The turbid ebb and flow! With the muse of nature. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (3/19/2016 7:54:00 AM)

    Sea is calm, ebb and flow of waves denoting the struggle and flight of human army at night in confusion says the poem about human difficulty going on with dreams of a better tomorrow that the scene of Dover beach shows now! (Report) Reply

  • (3/19/2016 3:50:00 AM)

    Amazing flow of the poem has enhances it's captivating capacity. Narration of the beach and it's surroundings is superb as also the style of unfolding of the story in the poem. Thanks for sharing here. (Report) Reply

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (3/19/2016 1:41:00 AM)

    Nice description of the beach, Liked it thanks for sharing,10 (Report) Reply

Read all 63 comments »

# 81 poem on top 500 Poems

User Rating:
3,4 / 5 ( 258 votes ) 59

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

Read poems about / on: sea, moon, faith, beach, night, beautiful, peace, light, joy, world, wind, pain, dream

Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 6, 2001

Poem Edited: Thursday, December 25, 2014

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  7. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]