What distaste is speaker expressing about the world around him? What, in his opinion, has caused this problem, and what internal struggle has it caused in his own life?
As the poem opens, the speaker is standing at a window at night looking out over a calm and beautiful moonlit scene of the English channel. He is delighted about the sweetness of the air and the tranquility of the scene. He beckons to his beloved to listen to the sound of the water. His problem, however, is that that his mood changes and becomes less joyous, for he begins to hear the "eternal note of sadness" as the waves hit the pebbled shore.
This causes him to note that the world is filled with "human misery." He also reflects that the religious faith that used to give people hope has waned. He visualizes faith as a sea that once circled the earth like a "bright girdle." Now, however, in his melancholy mood, he realizes that the sea of faith is "withdrawing ... retreating ..." This too makes him unhappy. The speaker, deeply saddened, states that the world has
neither joy, nor love, nor light,Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain
Ah, love, let us be trueTo one another!
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