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Ah, Love Let Us Be True

Well, I’m off to Cannon Beach, not Dover Beach, and on a family trip, not a romantic tryst, but I’ll be with some of people I love most in my life (it’s only too bad Tyson and Jen can’t be with us), but somehow this trip still reminds me of Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach:”

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.

Although I spent my first honeymoon at the Oregon Coast, I associate the coast with much more than romantic love. It’s too immense, too awe-some to limit it to just romantic love, not that romantic loves isn’t awesome.

To me, though, the ocean has always been a place to think. There is something both inspirational and moving about the ocean. As it turns out, I spent my first honeymoon at the beach, but I also drove down to the beach to clear my mind the night I decided to leave my first wife. Perhaps it is the sense of timelessness you sense at the beach that makes it such a good backdrop to make important decisions.

At times I, like Arnold, have felt the “eternal note of sadness” in the grating roar of the waves hitting the beach. I’m afraid I continue to hear it today in the sounds of war from a far shore.

I wish I could have the faith of our leaders that we will ultimately destroy evil, but I find it difficult to have faith that all is well and we can rely on God’s blessings to ultimately solve our problems. God probably wants us to take care of that by ourselves, and it’s increasingly unclear that we are really capable of doing that.

Today, just as on the day when Arnold wrote the lines nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, “we are here as on a darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight/Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

As a younger man, I might have put my faith in a lover, but now a wiser, older man, I’ll put my faith in Leslie, Dawn, Rich and, perhaps, most of all, my grandson, Gavin who finds joy wherever he is. (Though I’m sure hoping he doesn’t cry too much at bedtime in that small cabin.)

Perhaps after a week walking the beach, eating at restaurants, and flying kites, I’ll be ready with Jeff Ward’s recent help to come back and tackle transforming this blog into the MT masterpiece that Jonathon seems to expect of me.

(Besides it’s a good thing I’m leaving for a week or I’d be far too tempted to reply to Glenn Reynolds’ quote from Brenden O’Neil that “Rather than indicating a real opposition to Western intervention, our dislike of war seems to capture our fear of doing anything too decisive or forceful. . . . Surely there’s more to being anti-war than just not liking bloodshed…?” and I really don’t need to get dragged into someone else’s battle now, do I, Bb?