Random Poetry: “Dover Beach”

Dover Beach

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 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 Aegean, 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.

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.

Text via Public Domain Poetry

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A to Z Day 12: Lyric

We all know song lyrics. A lyric is also a form of poetry, and it’s fair to call many popular songs lyric poems set to music. The term originated, in fact, as a form of Greek poetry written to be accompanied by a lyre.

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“Lyric” is generally used to distinguish personal, emotional poems from narrative and dramatic poetry. Narrative poems tell a story using one or more characters (epics are a good example). Dramatic poetry is written to be spoken aloud by the characters themselves (Shakespeare’s plays qualify as dramatic poetry; dramatic monologues are also a popular form). Lyric poetry is typically, but not always, short.

As with most other categorization schemes, the boundaries between these three forms of poetry can be a bit fuzzy, especially with contemporary poetry. It’s entirely possible to incorporate elements of all three into a single work. It’s also possible to create a poem that doesn’t really fit into any of these categories; so I don’t consider them all-inclusive, but I do find them useful.

Here’s a poem I published not long after I started this blog. Some would call it pure narrative, but I think the last two lines make it a lyric, because they make it clear that I’m not telling the story just to tell it. I’m using it to express personal feelings.


Left Field

Manny Ramirez once caught a fly ball
for out two
and tossed it to a fan
instead of throwing to second.

He even jogged halfway to the dugout
before he realized his mistake.

Manny was like that.

(He thought he had the third out,
Just in case you don’t know baseball
or never heard of Manny.)

A to Z Badge by Jeremy of Being Retro