Matthew Arnold
  • 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 Aegean, 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.

The English poet and critic Matthew Arnold (1822–’88) was one of the leading intellectual figures of the Victorian era. A plea for unwavering constancy in a world filled with violence and in an age of dwindling faith, the poem exemplifies Arnold’s stylistic austerity and nobility of temper. Addressed to Frances Lucy Wightman, the poet’s wife, it was most likely composed in 1851, the year of their marriage.

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CuddleFish Jan. 29, 2010 @ 1:29 a.m.

Steve, shouldn't you be back over at Perigee?

I nominate, once again and very firmly, SDaniels for anything to do with books, poems, short stories, fiction, essays, etc.

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SDaniels Jan. 29, 2010 @ 2:32 a.m.

Ahhh, for that, I nominate Anthony Hecht for the better poem:

The Dover Bitch by Anthony Hecht

A Criticism of Life: for Andrews Wanning

So there stood Matthew Arnold and this girl With the cliffs of England crumbling away behind them, And he said to her, 'Try to be true to me, And I'll do the same for you, for things are bad All over, etc., etc.' Well now, I knew this girl. It's true she had read Sophocles in a fairly good translation And caught that bitter allusion to the sea, But all the time he was talking she had in mind The notion of what his whiskers would feel like On the back of her neck. She told me later on That after a while she got to looking out At the lights across the channel, and really felt sad, Thinking of all the wine and enormous beds And blandishments in French and the perfumes. And then she got really angry. To have been brought All the way down from London, and then be addressed As a sort of mournful cosmic last resort Is really tough on a girl, and she was pretty. Anyway, she watched him pace the room And finger his watch-chain and seem to sweat a bit, And then she said one or two unprintable things. But you mustn't judge her by that. What I mean to say is, She's really all right. I still see her once in a while And she always treats me right. We have a drink And I give her a good time, and perhaps it's a year Before I see her again, but there she is, Running to fat, but dependable as they come. And sometimes I bring her a bottle of Nuit d' Amour.

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CuddleFish Jan. 29, 2010 @ 3:29 a.m.

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding ding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Winnah, and undisputed champeen, SDaniels!!!!!!!!!

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