Melancholy. It's a word often associated with poetry. A deep pensive sadness. Which in its depiction, can yield beautiful results.
The sea of course, is a recurring metaphor in poetry for melancholia with all its moods and shades of blue and sorrowful connotations. And nowhere is it used to more sorrowful effect than in Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach' which is infamous for its magnificent melancholy, (and has even been quoted in various literary works since its publication in 1867, including a poem by Yeats. And as I write this, the name of an album by a favourite band of mine comes to mind, 'Cease to Begin' by Band of Horses, whose music has been described as 'melancholic' and the cover of said album features a sea scene at night, hmmm....)
No doubt, a highly influential poem throughout the decades.
Dover Beach - Matthew Arnold
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!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.