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Dover Beach By: Mathew Arnold Lecture 17. Victorian Poetry Victorian period describes the events in the age of Queen Victoria’s reign of 1837-1901. Influence.

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Presentation on theme: "Dover Beach By: Mathew Arnold Lecture 17. Victorian Poetry Victorian period describes the events in the age of Queen Victoria’s reign of 1837-1901. Influence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dover Beach By: Mathew Arnold Lecture 17

2 Victorian Poetry Victorian period describes the events in the age of Queen Victoria’s reign of Influence of Romantics still strong, though Victorian poetry reacted against subjectivity. Victorian poetry is heroic, sentimental and nostalgic. Most enduring feature of Victorian poetry is dramatic monologue, though short lyrics and sonnets were also popular. Simplicity of language was adhered to.

3 Poetry is Pictorial: employs details to create a visual image to represent emotion. Use of alliteration for sound effect etc. to create effect and illustrate meaning e.g. mellowness of Tennyson and roughness of Browning Experimentation with narrative Depiction of inner workings of the mind, the psychology of the characters Spiritual contemplation and philosophical inquiries are common with the Victorian poets.

4 Poets of Early Victorian Period Mathew Arnold, Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning Both imbued with the spirit of romanticism with difference. Tennyson was inspired by Byron and Keats; Browning with Shelley. Romanticism was blended with the skepticism of the age or the great debate between religion and science.

5 Mathew Arnold ( ) A poet, a critic and an educator Most of his poetry gives expression to the conflict of the age – between faith and scepticism – and is therefore melancholic. He was disappointed with lack of faith in the society (as the result of scientific rationalism & publication of Darwin’s work “Origin of Species”) He longed for primitive faith, wholeness, simplicity and happiness. He is reflective and philosophical in his poems.

6 He saw “anarchy” in the society as the result of scientific rationalism & intellectualism In such confusion, he assigns a sacred & semi- religious status to poetry: “More and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us.” or, that poetry is “the best that has been said and thought in the world.”

7 For Arnold poetry has both aesthetic and instructional function. The best poetry for Arnold is one that embodies Hellenism or Greek culture. He looks for “high seriousness” in poetry, meaning the combination of deep insight and perfect form, such that was found in the poetry of Homer, Dante and Shakespeare. His poetry is plain and prosaic.

8 About the poem Wrote the poem during or shortly after a visit made to Dover region of southeastern England, in The town of Dover is closer to France than any other port in England. The Strait of England separates the town from the coast of France. There are shifting points of views in narration. Poem has the mournful tone of an elegy and the intensity of a dramatic monologue.

9 Central message is the loss of faith in the Victorian society as the result of scientific postulates, such as the evolutionary theory of English physician Erasmus Darwin and French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamark. He was a believer in God and religion but also supported an overhauling of religious thinking: in God and Bible he wrote, “ at the present moment two things about Christianity religion must surely be clear to anybody with eyes in his head. One is, that men cannot do without it; the other, they cannot do with it as it is.”

10 Analysis of the Poem The sea is calm to-night. The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits;-- Gives description of the beach and the night. Scene of peace and calm. A strait is narrow waterway that connects two larger bodies of water, or a channel of water.

11 on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. dying light on the coast of France is a reminder of the dying light of faith. Bay: large body of water enclosed by land with a wide mouth allowing access to sea.

12 Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Only, from the long line of spray Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land, Sea waves hitting the rocks and cliffs are splashing water in shower in every direction. The poet enjoying the peace and quite of the night but his peace of mind is disturbed by troubling thoughts.

13 Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Auditory imagery is significant here: sound of pebbles Men’s minds are like pebbles on the shore, that are swayed between belief and disbelief, between faith and scepticism. Grating roar: sound of pebbles rubbing against each other.

14 Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in. sound and continuous movement of the waves moving backwards and forwards. Tremulous cadence: rhythmic motion of the waves at regular interval. The full sea tide & its music remind him of sad truths of their world.

15 Sophocles long ago Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery. Sophocles: 5 th C Gk dramatist, writing about fate and will of gods Aegean: sea or bay in Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Turkey Ebb and flow of human misery is compared to the tides of the sea – man’s fortunes are shifting like tides

16 we Find also in the sound a thought, Hearing it by this distant northern sea. The poet is distant in time and space from Sophocles but he experiences the same emotions. He too is disturbed by the thoughts of human misery

17 The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d. Sea of Faith: uses a grand simile to explain the gradual loss of man’s faith in religion – a sea surrounding the world. Girdle: long belt

18 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. withdrawing waves symbolize loss of faith. Breath of night-wind: like the influence of secular thinking Naked shingles : the pebbles on the shore, or faith retreating from the lives of people.

19 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; Certitude: confidence and hope. Theme of appearance and reality of the Victorian world.

20 And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night. Gives a picture of the Victorian world: a dark plain where people are struggling for their materialistic ambitions like armies fighting at night without knowing who and why they are fighting.

21 Analysis/Themes The poem is held together by unity of emotions and sentiments, although there is no connection between the first and the second parts. Describes the effects of industrialization of the 19 th C England; Victorian world was changing with the growth of science and technology. Also condemns the loss of faith, religion and the meaning of life resulting from secular thinking.


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