Saturday, 29 May 2010

Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

I thought I'd do something a little different today and read one of my favourite poems for you. It's called Dover Beach and is written by Matthew Arnold in 1867 - I discovered it when I read Ian McEwan's Saturday. I love the way it sounds and although there are several great recordings of it already on Youtube, I wanted to add my own. Besides, it would be lazy to pinch someone else's recording!

I hope you enjoy!


By Matthew Arnold

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 long ago
Heard it on the Agean, 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.


  1. You're English you say (The Queen and I JE)? Sounds like an Aussie accent or...

  2. Cinderess - haha yes you've busted me. I am originally English (left when I was 12) then lived in NZ for 14 years before relocating to Taiwan. Hence the accent - sometimes I sound more English, other times very Kiwi. Apparently this recording caught me in my "downunder mood"!

    Thanks for listening and the comment :)

  3. Definitely Kiwi! Lovely poem and it was so fun to get to hear you read it!

  4. Thanks Lisa! My favourite NZ poet has given me permission to record one of her poems for this blog so I'm really excited about that.... watch this space! :D