Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The Pessimist

It's interesting what you can discover when you download 'educational' podcasts like these ones.

For example, the show from a couple of weeks ago introduced me to this:

Dover Beach

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-blanch'd 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 furl'd.
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.

It was written by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) in 1851, on the occasion of his honeymoon. Clearly he was a happy man. There's a beauty in his pessimism that appeals to me, though I'm not entirely certain why. Maybe I strive for a similar beautiful pessimism/cynicism/harsh reality in some of my own work. Maybe I just like the fact that he's a miserable bugger like me.

Anyway here's a picture which may or may not fit with the theme of today's post.

It was raining that afternoon.

And as a complete aside, it's odd how people find me here. Who would have thought that this little blog would come so high up on a google search such as this? It was definitely someone who knew what they wanted. I'm not sure they found it though. Definitely not here that's for sure.

1 comment:

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