I love this poem. It is an early stream of consciousness poem, before the phrase was invented.I love the way this poem is an extended metaphor, how what appears to be a moonlight rhapsody, turns into a lament for lost faith
It reminds him of the sea of faith which once was full, but now ebbs. It has ebbed from his own life, leaving him a world in which there is “really neither joy, nor love, nor light/ Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain” a bleak world in which “ignorant armies clash by night.” Divine love and wisdom being gone, the only hope is in the fidelity of human love.
Hey, I am so glad I am a believer. Though my world does not have joy, love, light, certidude, peace and help for pain in every moment of every day, it often does–and for that I am grateful!
by Matthew Arnold
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
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.
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.