Ebb and Flow

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The sea is calm to-night.

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 Agaean, 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.

“Dover Beach” (1867), by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
Photos by Eowyn
~Eowyn

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0 responses to “Ebb and Flow

  1. One of my favourite poems, a grand universal sentiment beautifully expressed. One of modernity’s great deficits is our lack of poetry in daily living, and I do NOT mean the sloppy doggerel that is passed for it. When we’ve learned to live poetically we shall be perfect, just as Christ is the greatest poet, and Isaiah a close second!
    Go back and listen closely to Mozart’s piano concerti: although the first and final movements are lively enough, the middle almost w/o exception is a tale of shadows, w/a hint of life’s tragic pain. But then his natural religious bent allows Mozart to write a final movement that miraculously resolves life’s tensions and negations, and for those moments we again believe and assent: God is good, and Heaven’s in our living.

     
  2. Joseph, your comment is a perfect fit for Eowyn photos and poem. Thank you to Eowyn for this early morning soul food and to Joseph for the insightful comment that puts it perspective.

     
  3. Thank you for your very kind comments. I merely express what more than fifty years of listening to Mozart and poetry has meant to me. One of the blessings of our lives is that many churches include music in their religious observance, and the Roman Catholic is perhaps the richest. Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and Exul[s]tate Jubilate are performed throughout the year; you can hear them by watching the Religious Announcements in most daily newspapers for a performance. I last heard a live Ave Verum Corpus in LA, California w/my aunt Philomena, in an Easter Mass.

     
  4. Thank you, Dr. Eowyn! The beauty of nature keeps us close to Our Lord!

     

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