Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

17 Break, Break, Break

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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