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The unnamed speaker and the listener are in a room in Dover overlooking the English Channel directly across from France. They can see the sea and the cliffs, and also the moon-blanched land, and can also see a light on the French coast. They can hear the constantly pounding surf. The speaker’s eye moves from distant (the sea and the French coast) to near (the English shore), and finally to the room and to the situation of the two persons in the room. To Sophocles, the speaker says, the Aegean was a reminder of the “ebb and flow / Of human misery”. By comparing Sophocles’s thoughts to the present, the speaker suggests the timeless and inevitable unhappiness of the human condition.
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