Dover Beach is Matthew Arnold’s most popular poem. It was written in the year 1867, only a few weeks after he got married and the poem is written addressing his wife. It could be assumed that Arnold compiled the poem white sitting on the shores of Dover Beach while looking out to the sea with pebbles scattered across the shore.
This poem describes his battle with love, life and faith in his religion. He narrates a story, through this poem, trying to talk to his wife about their relationship and what he thinks love should be, using the sea and the waves to support his depiction.
Throughout this poem, there is a sense of series of metaphors merging together. It is noticeable from the first line, “The Sea of Faith,” which refers to the faith and appreciation that people put in nature and themselves. So when the poet writes that the sea of faith too, was once at the full, he means to say that people had a lot of devotion in themselves and in nature but we don’t anymore.
The second stanza is an indication to the past. Arnold’ uses “Sophocles”, an ancient Greek philosopher, to illustrate that the people, for a long time contemplated about an evaluation between sea and human misery.
The third stanza is where Arnold points out a contrast between the tide of the sea and his own personal faith using imagery. The tide of the sea symbolizes the unsympathetic world.
The fourth stanza is where the poem discovers both, a considerate as well as a hasty mood. Arnold speaks to his wife in the lines, “Ah, love, let us be true to one another!” Through these lines he exemplifies his profound love for her and requests her to be faithful to him, saying that for the sake of their marriage they need to be faithful to the other
To a particular extent, human beings are inferior to nature and the spiritual beliefs. The desertion of the doctrine of religion with the help of Industrial Revolution is only an ineffective act against the power overwhelming nature. Spirituality and faith should remain in humanity, so paying no heed to it would result in the ambiguity and vulnerability of modern man.
The poem continues explaining a battle worth fighting, for what one accepts as the truth, whether you think of the poem about love and the wife of Matthew Arnold, or whether as a poem signifying the ongoing religious dilemma of that time period. In the end, the only person you can count on is yourself and the one you love. All the mortals live in this world in a dark state of mind and the struggle for survival is no less different from ignorant armies that fight throughout the night.