Alfred Tennyson

Break, Break, Break

Poem by Alfred 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,
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.


First published in 1842. No alteration.

This exquisite poem was composed in a very different scene from that to which it refers, namely in "a Lincolnshire lane at five o'clock in the morning between blossoming hedges". See 'Life of Tennyson', vol. i., p. 223.