A summary of ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold
‘Dover Beach’ is one of the best-known and best-loved of Victorian poems, and the most widely anthologised poem by a Victorian figure whose poetic output was considerably slimmer than that of many of his contemporaries, such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson or Robert Browning. Time has not been overly kind to Matthew Arnold either: the poems for which he is remembered in the popular imagination tend to be confined to ‘The Scholar-Gipsy’, ‘To Marguerite: Continued’, ‘Shakespeare’, and – most of all – ‘Dover Beach’, which has been subjected to much critical analysis already. Here is Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’, the poem which sums up an era, along with a few words about its language and meaning.
The sea is calm to-night.
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. Read the rest of this entry
10 of the best sonnets in the English language
The sonnet form has been used by many poets in many languages since it was invented in the Middle Ages. It really arrived in English literature during the reign of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, when poets such as Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, introduced it at court. Since then poets have found new ways to use it to say what they want to say – it’s been a love poem, an elegy, a nature poem, an argument, a poem of remembrance, and much else. Here are ten of the finest sonnets in all of English literature, from the sixteenth century to the present day. Click on the title of each poem to read it. Read the rest of this entry
An introduction to ‘God’s Grandeur’, the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem
In our pick of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s best poems, we included ‘God’s Grandeur’, a sonnet celebrating ‘the grandeur of God’. Hopkins was one of the greatest religious poets of the entire nineteenth century, and this poem shows how he attained that reputation. Below is the poem, followed by a brief analysis of some of its themes and linguistic features.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. Read the rest of this entry