"Dover Beach" opens with a quiet scene. A couple looks out on the moonlit water of the English Channel, and listens to the sound of the waves. Then, all of a sudden it zooms out. And we mean way out.
See, the sound of the waves makes the speaker think first of ancient Greece. Yep, Greece. Then he turns the sound of the surf into a metaphor for human history, and the gradual, steady loss of faith that his culture has experienced. The poem ends on a gorgeous, heartbreaking note, with the couple clinging to their love in a world of violence and fear and pain.