Dover Beach Essay, Research Paper
“Sea is life“
Dover Beach is a very mood-evoking poem. We are first met with an admiration for the sea and different emotions that draws to the observer. However, as the poem progresses we are gradually introduced to a large metaphor for love and like the sea are able to evoke many moods, and different emotions, whether prosperous or decayed. The poet describes the emotions with extreme passion and perhaps with slight hysteria. We are given as sense of loss by this turmoil, which becomes clearer in the last stanza.
The title of this poem, “Dover Beach”, really sets the scene to the reader almost instantly. The beach, with its white cliffs, help give the readers a sense of dominance and magnificence. The poet may have done this as to set the mood for the opening stanza. For others it may provoke a thought or memory of the past such as the childhood holidays with your parents. The lines in the poem could be provoking these thoughts so that you can empathize later to what he is experiencing in the poem. The title itself however, does not give you any emotional insight into the poem. I feel the poet did this as to not alert the reader to what is going happen in further in the poem.
The poems opening stanza is to begin with very soft and peaceful, “The sea is calm tonight”(Line 1). The words the poet uses are pleasing such as “Gleams, sweet, glimmering”(Line 4, 6,5). The mood for the poem is being set. The reader is filled with visions of peace and a sense of being content “sweet is the night air!”(Line 6). However, the mood of the poem dramatically changes. The poet begins to use words, which changes the mood and are vastly different from the previous lines, “roar, slow, sadness”(Line 9, 13, 14). This sudden emotional change to me is a symbol of his love or life. Once the poet’s life was calm like the seas in the opening line. The poet’s life has no changed into turmoil of emotions, which are charged like the sea “the waves draw back, and fling, At their return/”(Lines 10-11). The first stanza is explaining the sudden change in mood in the poem that is very similar to the changing mood of the sea.
In the second stanza we are actually able to learn more of the poets analogy. The poet believes that the noise of the sea can bring in the “flow of human misery”(Line 18). This is what he claims happened to Sophocles. This analogy is perhaps what also happened to the poet’s life. The calm sea turned into a continual warning swash in his soul which brought with it misery. However the last line of the stanza tells us that this noise does not bring with it just human misery but also a thought, that the poet does not elaborate this theory so we are left to assume this changes from person to person. “in the sound a thought”(Line 19).
The sea again in the third stanza represents his loss of faith. This loss of faith is elaborately described as disappearing in the nights wind ”to the breath of the night-wind”(Lines 26-27). Here the poet builds up a clear picture of the wind being personified, “to the breath”(Line 26) and taking this faith down to the “vast edges”(Line 27), and with it also the “naked shingles of the world”(Line 28).
This idea of naked shingles is perhaps how the poet feels himself to be. He isolates himself from anyone else. He is left bare naked to have all of his ideals taken away from him by the simple element the wind. By using the different moods of the sea, calm and powerful, the poet is able to make a connection to life. The way the sea continuously bashes, hurling rocks up against the sand, gives us a sense of relentlessness of some emotional strain on his life, “ Begin, and cease, and then again begin”(Line 12).
The final stanza is an incorporation of the whole poem, as well as confirming to the reader what it is the poet is trying to explain. The final stanza, begins like that of the opening stanza, using a very appealing, gentle opening, as well as words to support this, “ love, true, dreams, beautiful and new”(Lines 29, 31, 32). However, again like the stanzas preceding it, the mood changes again, which tries to tell us that no matter what happens, whether we are true, or in love, we will never understand this beauty of the sea. The poet helps to give an understanding to the reader that the sea is one element that one can never understand and so is life itself. This poem was fantastic in expressing what the poet is expressing from his heart.