Songs of the Sea

Song Cycle by John Axel Fernström (1897 - 1961)

Word count: 379

1. Break, break, break [sung text not yet checked]

Break, break, [break,]1
  On [thy]2 cold grey stones, O Sea! 
And I would that my tongue could utter 
  The thoughts that arise in me. 

[O]3 well for the fisherman's boy, 
  That he shouts [with]4 his sister at play! 
[O]3 well for the sailor lad, 
  That he sings in his boat on the bay! 

And the stately ships [go]5 on 
  To their haven under the hill; 
But O for the touch of a [vanish'd]6 hand, 
  And the sound of a voice that is still! 

Break, break, [break,]1
  At the foot of thy crags, O Sea! 
But the tender grace of a day that is dead 
  Will never come back to me.

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View original text (without footnotes)
Poet's note: "Made in a Lincolnshire lane at five o'clock in the morning, between blossoming hedges"
Written in memory of Tennyson's friend Arthur Hallam (d. 1833).
1 Végh: "o sea, o sea"
2 Manning: "the"
3 Manning: "Ah"
4 Manning: "to"
5 Manning: "sail"
6 Végh: "vanished"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

2. Lines written while sailing In a boat at evening [sung text not yet checked]

How richly glows the water's breast
Before us, tinged with evening hues,
While, facing thus the crimson west,
The boat her silent course pursues!
And see how dark the backward stream!
A little moment past so smiling!
And still, perhaps, with faithless gleam,
Some other loiterers beguiling.

Such views the youthful Bard allure;
But, heedless of the following gloom,
He deems their colours shall endure
Till peace go with him to the tomb.
-- And let him nurse his fond deceit,
And what if he must die in sorrow!
Who would not cherish dreams so sweet,
Though grief and pain may come to-morrow?

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The isle [sung text not yet checked]

There was a little lawny islet
By anemone and violet, 
Like mosaic paven:
And its roof was flowers and leaves
Which the summer's breath enweaves,
Where nor sun nor showers nor breeze
Pierce the pines and tallest trees,
Each a gem engraves; -
Girt by many an azure wave
With which the clouds and mountains pave
A lake's blue chasm.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Sail on, sail on [sung text not yet checked]

Sail on, sail on, thou fearless bark,
Wherever blows the welcome wind;
It cannot lead to scenes more dark,
More sad than those we leave behind.
Each smiling billow seems to say
"Though death beneath our surface be,
Less cold we are, less false than they,
Whose smiling wrecked thy hopes and thee."

Sail on, sail on, through endless space,
Through calm, through tempest, stop no more;
The stormiest sea's a resting-place
To him who leaves such hearts on shore.
Or, if some desert land we meet,
Where never yet false-hearted men
Profaned a world, that else were sweet,
Then rest thee, bark, but not till then.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Vogue, vogue", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Air -- The Humming of the Ban.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]