Dover Beach

I have been sparse in the last weeks and months. Not all, but some of that owed to nail-biting over the election.

So here we are.

I don’t know what we do tomorrow. It’s not clear yet who in America will suffer most, or what government actions will most require our outcry. I am only here, in the improbable company of Matthew Arnold:

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 Ægean, 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.

6 thoughts on “Dover Beach

  1. From the moment the Republicans chose him, I knew he would win. In a strange way, having it finally over with is a relief to me…it was so excruciating not to be able to share any of the hopeful enthusiasm of the many Hillary supporters around me, all of whom were convinced that she would win.

    Perhaps there will be something to gain by finally, actually being honest with ourselves about the fact that we are a racist, misogynist, xenophobic, queer-hating country…or at least, half of us are. Maybe we have to let the disease kill us a little before we can agree about the cure. But I’m not looking forward to the worst of the crisis before our fever breaks.

    • I suppose it was too much to hope that human beings — especially Americans, unfortunately — had evolved past knee jerk response to primate posturing. I swear that’s all it is. No thinking was going on, clearly.

  2. Thank you. That is just what I needed tonight. If you don’t mind, I’m going to repost it on my blog, send it to my daughter . . . and reread it in the middle of the night.

    • Poetry’s good medicine. Keep it circulating. It gives people courage even when the words are bleak. But after I got to the point of listening to old Pete Seeger tracks of “Joe Hill,” I just doubled up and howled like a dog.

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