Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Dover Beach
By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)
 
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.        5
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the ebb meets the moon-blanch’d sand,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves suck back, and fling,        10
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        15
Heard it on the Aegaean, 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.        20
 
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,        25
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        30
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        35
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
 
 
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