Essay: Where Is Our Dover Beach?

In 1851, the year, according to scholars, that Matthew Arnold wrote his poem Dover Beach, England was the richest, most powerful, most industrially sophisticated nation in the world. Progress was the nation's goddess, in whose honor was staged the Great Exhibition of 1851, a festival of English wealth and material advancement. While England celebrated itself, Arnold was on his honeymoon in the seaport town of Dover, writing a brief poem that eventually would be remembered by many more people than would remember the Great Exhibition, indeed would become the most anthologized poem in English. But Dover Beach was not a celebration...

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