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Arnold's use of sensory imagery helps the reader to imagine the experiences that invoke sight, hearing, sense of smell and taste, and tactile perceptions. Consider his use of imagery in this pattern of related details, found in the first three lines of the poem:
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! (1-7)
Arnold and his beloved bride-to-be peer from a window in a room overlooking Dover Beach. From their lofty vantage point, the moonlight reveals an ocean that lies calm
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- him to recall the Greek drama, "Sophocles," ...
- Arnold draws an analogy between the once full, but now receding tide and what he calls the "Sea of Faith" ...
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