Analysis of Dover Beach and The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold

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Analysis of Dover Beach and The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold is one of the many famous and prolific writers from the nineteenth century. Two of his best known works are entitled Dover Beach and The Buried Life. Although the exact date of composition is unknown, clearly they were both written in the early 1850s. The two poems have in common various characteristics, such as the theme and style. The feelings of the speakers of the poem also resemble each other significantly. The poems are concerned with the thoughts and feelings of humans living in an uncertain world. Even though Arnold wrote Dover Beach and The Buried Life around the same time, the poems also contrast. They differ specifically in mood.

Dover Beach is a poem of sadness that deals with the loss of human faith in conventional ideas and institutions. The setting of the poem is the eastern coast of England near the coast of France. Arnold begins the first stanza by describing the beautiful nature of Dover Beach: 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! He establishes the peacefulness of the setting, yet the very stillness of the stanza summons a mood of reflective sadness, which is quite common in Arnolds works (Allott 280). The movement of the waves is a slow rhythm for they Begin, and cease, and then again begin,/ With tremulous cadence slow. The rhythm of the sea, along with the grating roar&#...

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...nions about the world he lived in. Through his poetry readers will gather a general sense of Arnolds opinion of society and the world during the nineteenth century. Arnolds poems Dover Beach and The Buried Life provide a brief insight into the canon and thought of Matthew Arnold. These works symbolize the belief of a reality higher than our own. In Arnolds poetry are encompassed beautiful images of nature, feelings of dismay, and a world of confusion.

Works Cited

Allott, Kenneth. The Poems of Matthew Arnold. New York: Longman Group Limited, 1979.

Collini, Stefan. Arnold. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Jump, J.D. Matthew Arnold. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1965.

Roe, Frederick William. Essays and Poems of Arnold. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1928.
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