by Alfred Tennyson, Lord (1809 - 1892)

Break, break, break
Language: English 
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.

About the headline (FAQ)

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"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ; composed by Alexander Winterberger.
  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Adolf Strodtmann (1829 - 1879) , no title ; composed by Heinrich Zöllner.
  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Eugen Oswald (1826 - 1912) , "Brich, brich, brich" ; composed by János Végh, as Johann Végh.

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

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 16
Word count: 110