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4.6: Break, Break, Break

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  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    Break, break, break,
    On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
    And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.

    O well for the fisherman’s boy,
    That he shouts with his sister at play!
    O well for the sailor lad,
    That he sings in his boat on the bay!

    And the stately ships go on
    To their haven under the hill;
    But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand[1],
    And the sound of a voice that is still!

    Break, break, break,
    At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
    But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.

    —1834, 1842


    1. Like “Ulysses” and “In Memoriam,” this poem was inspired by the death of Arthur Hallam.
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