"The Sea Of Faith Was Once, Too, At The Full"
Context: Arnold, critic of nineteenth century life, could not accept the old religious faith with its worn conventions and could find no solid basis for a new faith that he struggled toward. In "Dover Beach" he describes the ebb and flow of the sea, which brings in an "eternal note of sadness." His mind bridges the centuries to Sophocles, who heard the same note on the Aegaean. Arnold then compares the full tide of the sea at Dover Beach with the "Sea of Faith." He says:
The Sea of FaithWas once, too, at the full, and round earth's shoreLay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.But now I only hearIts melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,Retreating, to the breathOf the night-wind, down the vast edges drearAnd naked shingles of the world.