Study Guide

Dover Beach Spirituality

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Maybe "Dover Beach" isn't so much about spirituality as it is about the feeling of losing it. The speaker looks back longingly to a time when people were more spiritual, when they had more faith in divine guidance. Now that's mostly gone, and the absence of faith has left the world "naked," vulnerable, and miserable. Maybe life has always been hard, but according to our speaker we're now more unprotected from that hardship than we've ever been.

Questions About Spirituality

  1. Do you feel like the speaker of this poem has a "spiritual" understanding of the world? How would you define his belief system?
  2. If the Sea of Faith has pulled back from the world in "Dover Beach," is there any spiritual life left in humanity, or is it all darkness?
  3. Do you think love and spirituality are related in this poem? Can love bring back the speaker's faith in the world?
  4. Why does this poem spend so much time talking about the Sea of Faith? What purpose does it serve?

Chew on This

While the ocean might rise and fall in an endless cycle, the poem gives us no hope that human spirituality might return to its previous high tide. Faith is gone forever, and that's all there is to it.

While faith may be gone, the speaker hints that love, and the ability of one person to be "true" to another, could take its place. So hey, maybe there's a silver lining yet.

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