Sophocles long ago Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought..Of human misery; explain these lines from Dover Beach

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; (Lines 15-18)

This portion is an extract from Matthew Arnold’s famous poem Dover Beach. It contains the poet’s deep and sad reflection on the tragic story of human life. The quiet and charming scenes of the moonlit sea near Dover Beach, the continuous changes of ebb and flow in the seawater, and the sparkling moonlit shore evoke in the poet profound thought and this is found expressed here.

As Arnold stands and looks at the continuous movements of the sea-water, he fancies the Sophoclean time and the significance of the human tragedy as the source of inspiration for Sophocles’s writings. The great Greek master Sophocles, well known for his famous tragedies, is found to have represented in his plays the spectacles of human sufferings and pains. He realises clearly the continuous flow of sorrows and suffering in human life. While standing on the banks of the Aegean Sea and looking at its ebb and flow, he, perhaps, felt depressed at the thought of the deep agony of human life. He perceived in such high tides and low the symbolic suggestiveness of the vicissitudes of the human fortune that is constantly swaying from one side to another.

Arnold’s tone here is absolutely pessimistic. His reference to Sophocles is, no doubt, appropriate and serves to intensify the deep tragedy of human life which the poet has persented as a part of his precept that poetry is a criticism of life.

Also read; Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold poem text