Matthew Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’ : illustrated text of poem followed by two short videos

LD :  Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach (1867) is not only one of the greatest poems of the Victorian era but also in the English language. It marks the demise of the old Christian values and certainties of the past; of the deep religious faith that had sustained Western man for centuries.

It was now eight years after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), an event that was to have staggering repercussions. A distinct chill descended on the world with the publication of Darwin’s bombshell of a book. The sea’s eye now had a melancholy mist on it. In a sense, Arnold’s poem is the poetic analogue to Nietzsche’s pronouncement a few years later: “God is dead . . . and we have killed him.”

Exquisite in its musicality and poignantly sad with its echoes of the sea—one moment breathlessly calm, and the next moment wild and turbulent and tossed with psychic storms—the poem remains an eternal testament to man’s helplessness before the ever-elusive and frightening Hidden God:

“And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”  

Moon Reflection 3

The sea is calm tonight,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! You hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back and fling
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles heard it...

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.


The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long withdrawing roar,
Retreating to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.


Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


Samuel Barber’s brooding song for baritone and string quartet brings Arnold’s poem to vivid life. Composed in the days leading up to World War II, the classical song is beautifully illustrated here with a stunning variety of sea pictures.

VIDEO: 8.23 mins.

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11 thoughts on “Matthew Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’ : illustrated text of poem followed by two short videos

  1. Truly beautiful… and awe-inspiring.

    A bath for the mind after all the depressing Jew stuff.

    It’s back to the eternal verities.

  2. Aleppo is calm tonight,
    The siege is full, the slaughter lies ahead
    Upon the mountains paths; on the Syrian landscape the Armageddon
    Peace and is gone; the caves of hell stand
    Guns and gore, out in the demons land.
    Gone the days of peace ,came the duck and bear of destruct
    From the long line of Dracula
    Where the demons meets their match in blood soaked land,
    Listen! You hear the bear’s roar
    Of bombs which the demons drop back and forth
    At their impact, death goes to new heights,
    Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
    With tremulous revenge , and bring
    The eternal note of sadness in.

    The Faith
    Was once profound and real
    But now I only hear
    Hate and war ululating and demons roar,
    Retreating to sanity in this mad world.
    Is out of reach.

  3. Thanks LD – I like the poem and the pictures. Both are mind movers.

    From the article:

    “It was now eight years after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), an event that was to have staggering repercussions. A distinct chill descended on the world with the publication of Darwin’s bombshell of a book.”

    To me, the second of these beautiful pictures shows more than all of the guesses made by Darwin. The picture shows that the white rocks made of crustaceans, diatoms, were once at the bottom of the ocean… AND were raised by a huge force. The proof is the 45 degree angles seen in the exposed layers which were once flat on the floor of the ocean….. where the diatoms piled up for billions of years. He should have researched that. He might not have been in such confusion about “The Sudden Appearance of Whole Groups of Allied Species”…!!!

    Darwin’s book was an invention full of theories which had no proof. Darwin, himself, admitted that….. and should have placed a corresponding statement in the introduction, or even in the title. But, he hid it several hundred pages inside the book. The first page should have a disclaimer admitting: “There is very little absolute proof of my guesses.” 🙂

    Then the people were told that “Species” could include ‘Man’ and they blindly accepted it….. and Pharisee-Jews taught it.

    Below is proof that Darwin was guessing given by Darwin’s own arguments AGAINST his own theories.

    Darwin even stated in his book – in numerous places – that NO geologists of acclaim agreed with him.

    Darwin’s Book: “ORIGIN OF SPECIES”

    **(actual book page numbers, not the reader numbers)

    CHAPTER X: Imperfection of the Geological Record

    p. 333
    I endeavoured, also, to show that inter-mediate varieties, from existing in lesser numbers than the forms which they connect, will generally be beaten out and exterminated during the course of further modification and improvement. The main cause, however, of innumerable intermediate links not now occurring everywhere throughout nature depends on the very process of – NATURAL SELECTION – through which new VARIETIES continually take the places of and EXTERMINATE their parent-forms.

    But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous.

    (cont’d p.334)
    Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links?


    -Absence of Intermediate Varieties-
    p.346 (whole section)


    -Sudden Appearance of Whole Groups of Allied Species-

    The several difficulties here discussed, namely our not finding in the successive formations infinitely numerous transitional links between the many species which now exist or have existed; the sudden manner in which whole groups of species appear in our European formations; the almost entire absence, as at present known, of fossiliferous formations beneath the Silurian strata, are all undoubtedly of the gravest nature.

    We see this in the plainest manner by the fact that all the most eminent palaeontologists, namely Cuvier, Owen, Agassiz, Barrande, Falconer, E. Forbes, &c., and all our greatest geologists, as Lyell, Murchison, Sedgwick, &c., have unanimously, often vehemently, maintained the immutability of species.

    CHAPTER XI: On The Geological Succession Of Organic Beings

    -On the Forms of Life Changing Almost Simultaneously Throughout the World-

    p.373 (whole section)


    -Summary of Preceding and Present Chapters-

    He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will RIGHTLY REJECT my whole THEORY.

    He may ask where are the remains of those infinitely numerous organisms which must have existed long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited:

    I can answer this latter question only – HYPOTHETICALLY, – by saying that as far as we can see, where our oceans now extend they have for an enormous period extended, and where our oscillating continents now stand they have stood ever since the Silurian epoch; but that long before that period, the world – MAY – have presented a wholly different aspect; and that the older continents, formed of formations older than any known to us, – MAY NOW – all be in a metamorphosed condition, or – MAY – lie buried under the ocean.

    Passing from these difficulties, all the other great leading facts in palaeontology seem to me simply to follow on the theory of descent with MODIFICATION through – NATURAL SELECTION.


    No “chill” here. I DON’T BELIEVE DARWIN ‘The Guesser’…!!! 🙂

    Videos are great. Especially cliffs made of diatomaceous earth.

    1. Pat,

      I don’t mind if you don’t believe in Darwin. Feel free!

      If someone actually proved Darwin wrong, that would be quite exciting! 🙂

      1. LD –

        “If someone actually proved Darwin wrong, that would be quite exciting!”


        If someone proved Darwin correct….
        ……would be even more exciting..!!

        He answers questions in “hypothetical fashions” throughout the book.

        Proponents wearily carry the burden of proof… 🙂

    2. Pat
      Men of strong faith don’t believe in dwarf darwin ,the cretin,theory
      Men who are strong believers in God Almighty ,our Creator ,don’t believe
      in the insanity and blasphemy of atheism.
      God is Great ,Blessed his Holy Name
      Hell is waiting for you darwin followers
      commies and atheists.

      1. Darwin’s friend and Captain of the HMS Beagle, Adm Fitzroy…. both in their 20s… did not believe Darwin’s claims were factual:

        Admiral Robert FitzRoy is better known as the Captain of HMS Beagle, the ship that carried Darwin on his famous voyage. FitzRoy was born into a notable royal family line and gained command of a ship at the young age of 23, mainly through his exceptional ability, and only partly from his lineage. He could in fact trace his ancestors back through the Royal line of Charles II, and Barbara Villiers, the Duchess of Cleveland, and he was also a nephew of Lord Castlereagh. He was later nominated to fellowship of the Royal Society for his hydrographic and chronographic survey, and was also chosen as the first Chief Statist of the newly formed Meteorological Department of the Board of Trade in the UK (Now the UK Meteorological Office). Throughout his life he had a strong sense of Christian duty and desire to protect life, especially the lives of fellow sailors, and he was a pioneer in the development of a system of storm warnings around Britain following the Royal Charter naval disaster, and was the first to produce and issue regular weather forecasts.

        FitzRoy was an exceptional scholar and scientist, and a fierce and important critic of Darwin’s theory of evolution, disputing the facts that Darwin presented. Supporters of Darwin later attacked FitzRoy’s reputation because it was recognized that the Captain of the Beagle’s comments could do enormous damage to the theory of evolution. Nevertheless, FitzRoy was a notable scientist and supporter of Flood geology and Special Creation.

        The young Darwin joined the Beagle as the ship’s naturalist and companion of the Captain, following the recommendation of his former Professor, John Henslow. FitzRoy and Darwin remained friends for many years after. While FitzRoy was examining the coast on this long trip, Darwin was expected to survey the surrounding geology, flora, and fauna. Both FitzRoy and Darwin wrote up the exploration of the Beagle in a three-volume work, known as the Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle. FitzRoy wrote the first two volumes with Darwin the third (although the first volume mainly used edited material from Parker King and Pringle Stokes).

        After the voyage FitzRoy continued to visit Darwin at Down House in Kent regularly until the spring of 1857,7 but their friendship became severely strained following the publication of Darwin’s book in November 1859. FitzRoy became a major critic of his friend’s work, and although he suffered from depression and a sharp temper he never bore grudges and showed compassion to those he disagreed with. In December 1859, FitzRoy began an exchange in The Times criticizing the dating of stone tools found near the river Somme, these dated to 14,000 years BP.

      2. HP –

        Thanks for that info.

        It appears to me that Wallace was encumbered with as many “could have” and “probably” and “believe” in his sentences as Darwin was…. or more:

        “Wallace believed that certain physiological features of humans could not be explained by natural selection and survival of the fittest alone. He noted that the brains of primitive peoples were as large and developed as the brains of civilized peoples. It appeared, therefore, that the primitive people had brains with capacities far in excess of those demanded by their daily lives. Wallace said that “natural selection could only have endowed the savage with a brain a little superior to that of an ape.” (1869; in Smith, 1991, p. 32) Concerning the human hand, Wallace said the savage “has no need for so fine an instrument, and can no more fully utilise it than he could use without instruction a complete set of joiner’s tools.” (1869; in Smith, 1991, p. 32) Wallace made similar arguments about the human capacity for speech. He took all of this as evidence that some intelligence had “guided the action” of the laws of evolutionary development “in definite directions and for special ends” (1869; in Smith, 1991, p. 33)”


        I shall submit that the supposed excesses in brain sizes, even today…. are needed for unknown functions of the total immune systems along with replacements and repair of cells and organs…. especially when sleeping.

        See… I can guess as easily as Wallace and Darwin. 🙂

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