And naked shingles of the world. The speaker of the poem begins beautifully, asking his lover to come to the window to see the glory of the sea at night and to feel the sweet night air. Matthew Arnold, being one of the most eminent Victorian poets, minutely captures the cultural, moral and ethical decomposition existing in the Victorian era of doubts and disbelief. Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain. The despondent and monotonous sound of the waves reminds him of the despair with which Sophocles observed the misery and suffering of human beings in life as he heard the melancholic sound of the waves of the Aegean Sea.
Matthew Arnold was the son of Thomas Arnold, who was a noted and innovative headmaster of Rugby school. What natural beauty reminds us of is human misery. Hey, no one said this poem is uplifting. The only solace that the poet seeks from this dark, dead world is love. Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again. It characterizes the Earth as a place that seems joyful and bright but is actually full of pain. The land imparting a sense of uncertainty with the flickering light stands for the Victorian ethos marked by oscillations and dubiousness.
He believed that the speed at which everything moves, and the intensity with which people are expected to work, is detrimental to society as a whole, especially as it leads people away from what was once important to them. The ebbing of water reminds the poet of the ebbing of faith in God and religion. Generally, young people frequently imagine the joys of being older, however, when the time actually arrives and we have aged, we can no longer enjoy life, in the same manner, we used to. He was the first professor to lecture in English rather than Latin. The final choice is whether to give in to old age and its blows, both on mind and body, or whether to seek fulfillment from the understanding and knowledge gained from old age, depends entirely on the reader. Faith has been darkened by science.
In fact, the speaker's true reflection begins once the only sign of life - the light over in France - extinguishes. The rhythmic rise and fall of the waves are indicative of the rise and fall of human fate, misery, and suffering. From a literary critic, he transformed into a general critic of his age, capturing and revealing the world for what it was. This void caused by lack of faith has left people exposed to the tyranny of its own kind. He warns, however, that the world's beauty is only an illusion, since it is in fact a battlefield full of people fighting in absolute darkness. The poet could anticipate the shift in human ideology from the Christian tradition to the impersonal world of Darwin and other scientists. However, in the night, the sea seems to retreat, leaving the world bereft of metaphysical comfort.
There are definitely moments of love and beauty and pleasure mixed in there, too. Sometimes, nature can cause consternation, because it reminds the speaker that he can never quite transcend or leave society to the extent that he desires. It is this latter tumult that frightens the speaker, that has him beg his lover to stay true to him. The sea of faith that enveloped the world just like a girdle is fastened around the waist of an individual has now receded. And yet time can also bring consolation, reminding us that there are greater forces than the limitations of humanity, forces that we can reflect upon in hopes of reaching some greater state.
The speaker confronts the pain and suffering in the world head-on, no holds barred. The Weighty Rallentando with which a series of affirmations occur in the first sentence, however, signifies that dignity cannot be destroyed by the loss of faith. Nobody is free from the eternal sufferings that human beings find themselves in. Arnold, thus, depicts the ultimate power of love in soothing the soul. That's all we got in this mad, mad world, Shmoopers.
And the clash is as endless as time and tide. The last stanza, like the first, is a request to his lover. The strait refers to the Strait of Dover between the English Channel and the North sea. Here, the moment is the visceral serenity the speaker feels in studying the landscape, and the contradictory fear that that serenity then leads him to feel. The sea is an archetypal image invested with the sentiment of divine dignity. Arnold makes the point that our desire to extend time in great moments might extend misery for others. Because we can recognize the beauty in nature, but can never quite transcend our limited natures to reach it, we might be drawn to lament as well as celebrate it.
Stanza 3- The faith in the religion that, owing to advancement in science and materialism, was rapidly losing its significance, is compared to a sea. Stanza 4— The final paragraph opens with an expression of intense despair and sorrow pent up in the mind of the speaker. The dominating and loud roar of religious faith was now retreating. Instead, the beautiful sight is significant because of the fear and anxiety it inspires in the speaker. After graduating he returned to Rugby for a short time to teaching classics In 1851 he married and after this he began work as a schools inspector. They see the lights on the coast of France just twenty miles away, and the sea is quiet and calm.