A Poem by Robert Brophy 


Lines for Matthew Arnold or variations on “Dover Beach”


The sea is calm tonight,

And bleakness full, the fog lies eerie

Upon the shore; toward the pier a car light

Glimmers and is gone; the cliffs off Palos Verdes stand.

Come to the verge, strange is the starless aerie.

Only, from the long line of foam

Where sea meets fog-blanched sand,

Listen! You’ll hear those without home

Grieving while the waves draw back, and fling

On their return, up where cold forms stand,

Hiss, then cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring,

Yes, infernal notes of impoverishment in.

Jack Smith not long ago

Heard it by Newport Pier, and it brought

Into his mind that turbid flow

Of Southland misery; we

Find also, in the sound, the selfsame thought,

Hearing it by this the South Bay sea.

Locked restroom stalls

Were once accessible, and round earth’s shore

Apartments not burdened with enormous rent,

But now we only hear

The melancholy, long, foreclosing roar

Adjusting to the windfalls

Of new yuppie profits, evictions drear.

Bush safety-net only butt-cold sand has sent.

Ah, love, let us be not austerely continent;

Comfort one another, for the world that seems

To lie, before some, a Disneyland of dreams,

So fireworks-bright, so hospitable, so content,

Hath really neither rooms, nor warmth, nor light,

Nor welcoming Winchell’s donut shop with steamy pane,

While vagrant homeless suffuse the darkling plain.

Swept by hawking sheriff and Minute-men, our blight,

Where huddled Ishmaels and Hagars endure the night.

In this June 8, 2021, file photo, a jogger walks past a homeless encampment in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


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