I can see where reading a poem or two can be a happy, calming experience and one where on a busy, hectic day makes a person feel like she has had a nice literary/bookish moment in amongst all the crazy tasks that otherwise need to be completed. Yes, it is one of those weeks where I wish I had time to just lounge and read and sit in a sunny corner and escape into a story, but there is too much other stuff going on. I know I am not the only one having that sort of a week. This is what happens as the semester at a university nears its end (and where the library approaches it's fiscal year end).
Do you know what really made me choose The 100 Best Poems of All Time, edited by Leslie Pockell? Aside from the fact it looked so very 'dippable', when I flipped through looking to see whether I recognized any of the poems, or if they appealed to me . . . my eye was caught by Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach. And in particular the first line: "The sea is calm tonight." If you happen to stop by here frequently and over a longer period of time, you might know how much I love the idea of the seaside (living right in the middle of the US I am about as far away from the sea as a person can get, but I have visited a number of coastlines and love the sound of waves hitting a beach--happy sigh sort of memories and experiences).
I don't know anything about Matthew Arnold, other than he was a Victorian poet, but I will certainly read up on him now. I have read the poem a few times and may well read it a few more time today as I love the eloquence of it, the sound it makes in my mind (have not yet been able to read aloud as I wasn't alone when I read the poem). It has a lovely sadness to it, as weird as that sounds. But I like it.
The sea is calm tonight.The tide is full, the moon lies fairUpon the straits; on the French coast the lightGleams 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 sprayWhere the sea meets the moon-blanched land,Listen! you hear the grating roarOf 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 bringThe eternal note of sadness in.Sophocles long agoHeard it on the Ægean, and it broughtInto his mind the turbid ebb and flowOf human misery; weFind also in the sound a thought,Hearing it by this distant northern sea.The Sea of FaithWas once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shoreLay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.But now I only hearIts melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,Retreating, to the breathOf the night-wind, down the vast edges drearAnd naked shingles of the world.Ah, love, let us be trueTo one another! for the world, which seemsTo 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 plainSwept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,Where ignorant armies clash by night.