Selected Papers from the IAUPE Malta Conference in 2010
“Begin, and cease, and then again begin”:Rereading Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”: William V. Davis
“Begin, and cease, and then again begin”: Rereading Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” William V. Davis Baylor University In an age of disbelief … it is for the poet to supply the satisfactions of belief. Wallace Stevens The sea’s voice worked into my mood.… Robinson Jeffers “Dover Beach” is one of the most important poems of the nineteenth century and it certainly is one of the most well-known poems of all time. Even so, it has been more admired than analyzed, given lip service to than thoroughly thought through. It deserves to be treated more conscientiously than it has been, both as poem per se and as a significant and moving statement of one of the dominant themes of its time – a theme that remains significant and pertinent in our time as well. Since “Dover Beach” is, and has been, so well known, it perhaps seems un- necessary, or even audacious, to attempt to say anything, or anything new, about it. But I do think that there are things that have not yet been noticed. Therefore, what I want to do here is to provide yet another reading of “Dover Beach” and, by taking into consideration Arnold’s theme and craft in the poem, attempt to suggest some things that seem to have been overlooked, things that attest to the abiding significance of the poem. Arnold felt that poetry ought to voice the contemporary situation and the cur- rent circumstances of life. Since “modern problems” had “presented themselves” in his day and since...
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