The poem, “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold reminisces on a time and memories long gone. However, one aspect of the poem that intrigues me is the poet’s point reference. It is not clear whether the poet is melancholic and nostalgic about a literal Dover beach with its glimmering and gleaming beauty accentuated by pebbles and waves. Alternatively, the poet could have used Dover beach symbolically to represent the long-lost tranquil relationships and connections which have been washed away by the turbid ebb and flow of time and human misery. Additionally, the use of first, second and third person perspectives in the poem is confusing because it shifts the direction and theme of the conversation the poet is having with audience thereby creating some level of ambiguity. However, it allows for a deeper conversation by allowing for an open-ended interpretation of the poem.
The poem is about interpersonal love founded on unmovable faith that can withstand the test of miseries and struggles of humanity. Though delivered with a tone laden with nostalgia and melancholy, I believe Arnold’s idea of a picturesque interpersonal love is essential if humanity is to survive the challenges of life.
Arnold’s assertion that the world “Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light” captures the true picture of life without interpersonal love. This particular passage truly captures the key pillars of interpersonal love which is the subject of poem.
Matthew Arnold’s poem captures the essence of human miseries I have witnessed over the years. Hunger, wars, violence and discrimination that plague many communities today can be traced to lack of interpersonal love. As Arnold points out, the sea of faith in humanity was is informed by interpersonal love has retreated leaving humans in misery and sadness.