by Alfred Tennyson, Lord (1809 - 1892)

Break, break, break
Language: English 
Break, break, break,
  On thy cold grey 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.

About the headline (FAQ)

View text with 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).


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