List expressions which raise hope in Arnold's "Dover Beach."

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the poem "Dover Beach," by Matthew Arnold, quite honestly, there aren't too many expressions that raise hope.  Truthfully, there are many expressions that nix hope, but we'll save those for another answer.  However, the first stanza is full of hope.  This is the stanza that fully describes the sea.  The speaker states that the "sea is calm" and "the tide is full" both raise hope with incredibly peaceful images.  The speaker also mentions that the "light gleams and is gone" which makes the reader think of sparkles on the ocean's surface.  The "tranquil bay" holds the vision of the cliffs that are "glimmering and vast."  In addition, the speaker adds an exclamation point in the second to last line of the stanza:  "sweet is the night air!"  Everything here is positive, inspiring hope.  The reader hopes, then, that the rest of the poem will continue the thought.  Not so. 

However, it would be wrong to say that the rest of the poem is bereft of hope.  That isn't true either.  Although hope cannot be found in the past or in the sea of "Faith," there is the request "Ah, love, let us be true / To one another!"  Hope, then, according to the speaker in "Dover Beach" can only be found in that love.