DOVER BEACH

 

Matthew Arnold

 

  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.

  Come to the window, sweet is the night air!

  Only, from the long line of spray

  Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd 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 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 furl'd.

  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.

 

  [written 1852? Published 1867]

 

 

 

From IN MEMORIAM (1850)

 

Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

        The wish, that of the living whole

        No life may fall beyond the grave

        Derives it not from what we have

        The likest God within the soul?

 

        Are God and Nature then at strife,

        That Nature lends such evil dreams?

        So careful of the type she seems,

        So careless of the single life;

 

        That I, considering everywhere

        Her secret meaning in her deeds,

        And finding that of fifty seeds

        She often brings but one to bear,

 

        I falter where I firmly trod,

        And falling with my weight of cares

        Upon the great world's altar-stairs

        That slope thro' darkness up to God,

 

        I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,

        And gather dust and chaff, and call

        To what I feel is Lord of all,

        And faintly trust the larger hope.            

[Section 55; ll. 1-20]

 

 

        'So careful of the type?' but no.

        From scarped cliff and quarried stone

        She cries, 'A thousand types are gone:

        I care for nothing, all shall go.

 

        'Thou makest thine appeal to me:

        I bring to life, I bring to death:

        The spirit does but mean the breath.

        I know no more.' And he, shall he,

 

        Who trusted God was love indeed

        And love Creation's final law --

        Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw

        With ravine, shrieked against his creed?

 

 [LVI ll. 1-16]

 

 “EASTER DAY” NAPLES, 1849

 

ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH

 

THROUGH the great sinful streets of Naples as I past,

    With fiercer heat than flamed above my head

My heart was hot within me; till at last

    My brain was lightened, when my tongue had said—

            Christ is not risen!

 

        Christ is not risen, no,

        He lies and moulders low;

            Christ is not risen.

 

What though the stone were rolled away, and though

        The grave found empty there?——

        If not there, then elsewhere;

If not where Joseph laid Him first, why then

        Where other men

Translaid Him after; in some humbler clay

        Long ere to-day

Corruption that sad perfect work hath done,

Which here she scarcely, lightly had begun.

        The foul engendered worm

Feeds on the flesh of the life-giving form

Of our most Holy and Anointed One.

 

        He is not risen, no,—

        He lies and moulders low;

            Christ is not risen.

 

What if the women, ere the dawn was grey,

Saw one or more great angels, as they say,

(Angels, or Him himself)? Yet neither there, nor then,

Nor afterward, nor elsewhere, nor at all,

Hath He appeared to Peter or the Ten;

Nor, save in thunderous terror, to blind Saul;

Save in an after-Gospel and late Creed

        He is not risen indeed,

            Christ is not risen.

 

Or what if e’en, as runs the tale, the Ten

Saw, heard, and touched, again and yet again?

What if at Emmaüs’ inn and by Capernaum’s Lake

        Came One the bread that brake—

Came One that spake as never mortal spake,

And with them ate and drank and stood and walked about?

        Ah! ‘some’ did well to ‘doubt’!

Ah! the true Christ, while these things came to pass,

Nor heard, nor spake, nor walked, nor dreamt, alas!

        He was not risen, no—

        He lay and moulder low,

            Christ was not risen.

 

As circulates in some great city crowd

A rumour changeful, vague, importunate, and loud,

From no determined centre, or of fact,

        Or authorship exact,

        Which no man can deny

            Nor verify;

        So spread the wondrous fame;

            He all the same

        Lay senseless, mouldering, low.

        He was not risen, no—

            Christ was not risen!

 

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust;

As of the unjust, also of the just—

        Yea, of that Just One too.

This is the one sad Gospel that is true—

            Christ is not risen.

 

Is He not risen, and shall we not rise?

        Oh, we unwise!

What did we dream, what wake we to discover?

Ye hills, fall on us, and ye mountains, cover!

        In darkness and great gloom

Come ere we thought it is our day of doom,

From the cursed world which is one tomb,

            Christ is not risen!

 

Eat, drink, and play, and think that this is bliss:

There is no Heaven but this;

        There is no Hell;—

Save Earth, which serves the purpose doubly well,

        Seeing it visits still

With equallest apportionment of ill

Both good and bad alike, and brings to one same dust

        The unjust and the just

            With Christ, who is not risen.

 

Eat, drink, and die, for we are souls bereaved

    Of all the creatures under heaven’s wide cope

    We are most hopeless, who had once most hope,

And most beliefless, that had most believed.

        Ashes to ashes, dust to dust;

        As of the unjust, also of the just—

        Yea, of that just One too!

        It is the one sad Gospel that is true—

            Christ is not risen!

 

        Weep not beside the tomb,

        Ye women, unto whom

He was great solace while ye tended Him;

        Ye who with napkin o’er the head

And folds of linen round each wounded limb

        Laid out the Sacred Dead;

 

And thou that bar’st Him in thy wondering womb;

Yea, Daughters of Jerusalem, depart,

Bind up as best ye may your own sad bleeding heart:

Go to your homes, your living children tend,

        Your earthly spouses love;

        Set your affections not on things above,

Which moth and rust corrupt, which quickliest come to end:

Or pray, if pray ye must, and pray, if pray ye can,

For death; since dead is He whom ye deemed more than man,

        Who is not risen: no—

        But lies and moulders low—

            Who is not risen!

 

        Ye men of Galilee!

Why stand ye looking up to heaven, where Him ye ne’er may see,

Neither ascending hence, nor returning hither again?

        Ye ignorant and idle fishermen!

Hence to your huts, and boats, and inland native shore,

        And catch not men, but fish;

        Whate’er things ye might wish,

Him neither here nor there ye e’er shall meet with more.

        Ye poor deluded youths, go home,

        Mend the old nets ye left to roam,

        Tie the split oar, patch the torn sail:

        It was indeed an ‘idle tale’—

            He was not risen!

 

And, oh, good men of ages yet to be,

Who shall believe because ye did not see—

        Oh, be ye warned, be wise!

        No more with pleading eyes,

        And sobs of strong desire,

        Unto the empty vacant void aspire,

Seeking another and impossible birth

That is not of your own, and only mother earth.

But if there is no other life for you,

Sit down and be content, since this must even do:

            He is not risen!

 

        One look, and then depart,

        Ye humble and ye holy men of heart;

And ye I ye ministers and stewards of a Word

Which ye would preach, because another heard—

        Ye worshippers of that ye do not know,

        Take these things hence and go:—

            He is not risen!

 

        Here, on our Easter Day

We rise, we come, and lo! we find Him not,

Gardener nor other, on the sacred spot:

Where they have laid Him there is none to say;

No sound, nor in, nor out—no word

Of where to seek the dead or meet the living Lord.

There is no glistering of an angel’s wings,

There is no voice of heavenly clear behest:

Let us go hence, and think upon these things

        In silence, which is best.

        Is He not risen? No—

        But lies and moulders low?

            Christ is not risen?