DOVER BEACH BY ARNOLD: DR. HARESHWAR ROY



      Matthew Arnold is a very great poet of English literature. His 'DOVER BEACH' is one of the finest lyrics of the 19th century. It is the most famous lyric among all his lyrics. It reflects the melancholy of a troubled but brave spirit. Here the world has been presented as dreary and desert.


     About the dates and sources the scholars are divided in their opinions. It is said that this poem was not composed in one sitting. It is because there is a break between its last two stanzas. But on the whole this fine poem heightens our appreciation for Arnold's melancholy.
     'Dover Beach' starts with the images of stasis. The poet is standing at the English coast. He is watching the waves of the sea. The sea is calm and quiet. Arnold's keen observation of the sea is remarkable. He describes the process through which rough pebbles are made smooth. Thus we can say his description of nature is vivid, pictorial and accurate.
     The first two stanzas depict the mood of tranquility. The poet invites his companion to hear the sound produced by the sea. This typical sound is full of melancholy. For the poet it is the eternal note of sadness.


     The next two stanzas are highly symbolic. The third stanza deals with Sophocles, the great Greek poet. Here Sophocles is a mask for Arnold. The poet describes his experience through him. Like him the poet feels that man's life is full of sadness and misery. The fourth stanza deals with the poet's doubt and faith. Gradually he develops the sea as a symbol of faith. For the poet the world without faith is meaningless. The rest stanzas deal with the cry of the poet's heart for help and relief. He hopes to liberate himself from the agony caused by the clash of ignorant armies in darkness.
     Thus the present poem has elegiac tone. The poet feels that this world is full of pain. Here there is no love, no hope and no joy. Men have lost their religious faith and they are fighting against each other. The loss of faith has given birth to doubt. This is the main reason of  the poet's grief. The poem is full of symbols and images. The rhythm is created by irregular rhymes. In short, it is a magnificent poem.



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