Can anyone explain the poem "Dover Beach," by Matthew Arnold?
This is a poem that starts out sounding like a nice poem about nature and maybe love. But it soon turns to one in which the poet is really showing despair about the way the world is.
In the first part of the poem, the speaker is just enjoying the sights and sounds of the sea. He tells his love to listen to the sounds.
But then he thinks about how this same sound had made Sophocles think of how much people suffer -- how their lives are sort of tossed around by the waves like the pebbles.
So then the poet starts thinking about how Christian faith used to tie everyone together the way the ocean does. He is sad that the world is not like that anymore.
He hopes that love will help make sense of this world, but he ends the poem on a down note -- he thinks that nothing can really fix the confusion and pain of the world.
You will find two good explanations of the poem in the links below.