Dover Beach
Arnold, Matthew (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.
  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 gan, 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 New Oxford Book of English Verse (Helen Gardner)