Break Break Break Summary & Analysis | Break Break Break Poem

Break Break Break
Break Break Break


                    “Break, Break, Break” is an elegy written by “Alfred Tennyson” in memory of his best friend “Arthur Henry Hallam“. Tennyson wrote this poem after the death of his friend and through this poem, the poet is emphasizing on the beautiful days he spent with his friend and the agony he suffered from the loss of Arthur. It was written in 1835 and first published in 1842. It was written at 5 in the morning. This poem is elegiac and one of many responses to the death of a close friend. He also wrote ‘In Memory’ for his friend, for whom he wrote: “Break, Break, Break.” ‘In Memory’ was read by Queen Victorian herself after the death of her husband.

Break Break Break Poem

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.

About Poet

                              “Alfred Lord Tennyson” was the most renowned poet of the Victorian Era. Born in England in 1809, he began writing poetry right from his boyhood. He was also known as a poet Laureate. Poet Laureate means royal poet Before this the Royal Poet was Wordsworth and then this title was given to ‘Alfred Lord Tennyson’. Some of his most famous poems are ‘Mariana’, ‘The Lady of Shalott’, ‘In Memory’, ‘Ulysses’, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade, Crossing the Bar’ etc. His poems are very rhythmic and deal with the theme of death and lamentation.

The theme of The Break Break Break Poem

                    There are four main themes in the Poem.

  1. The theme of Death.
  2. The theme of Time.
  3. The theme of Memory and Nostalgia.
  4. The theme of Youth.

Structure and form Of The Poem

                     The poem consists of four stanzas. Each stanza consists of four lines, thus called also a quatrain. In the first and last stanza, the poet addresses the sea, expressing his sadness and sense of loss. The middle two stanzas present an image of joy and happiness.

         The rhyme scheme of each stanza is abab. In regards to the meter, there are various patterns that change throughout the poem.

Explanation of the Break Break Break poem

                    In the first stanza, the poet says the torment of his heart is tremendous. There is a struggle like the struggle of the sea waves on the stormy shores. The speaker also feels frustrated because the sea can keep moving and making noise while he is unable to utter his thoughts. The sea’s loud roar and its ability to vent its energy are something he lacks. The question before him is how he can express adequately the thoughts which are rushing in his mind.

         In the second stanza, the poet says that life is full of joy for the fisherman’s son and daughter who are laughing and shouting merrily. The poet on the other hand is entirely in a different mood. He is restless and grief-stricken at the death of his friend. The poet admires the innocent joy of these youngsters but he is sorry because he cannot share it. The lad of the sailor is also happy and sings in his boat face to face-with the magnificence of the sea. But such joy is not for the poet.

         In the third stanza, the poet says that the majestic ships ply on their destination under the hill. The poet, however, has no definite plan for his life and misses his friend, Arthur Henry Hallam whose voice and touch were so soft and tender. The grief of the poet is terribly intense.

            In the fourth stanza, the poet asks the waves to go on strike against the sea shore, but the poet cannot recall the past experience that he enjoyed in the company of his friend. The waves come again, again, again hitting a wall of rock each time. But for him, there is no return of the dead, just the recurring pain of loss. Nevertheless, both the sea and the speaker continue with their useless but repeated action, as though there is no choice. The scene evokes a sense of inevitability and hopelessness.


             Thus, now we can say that the poem Break, Break, Break is one of the most famous elegiac poems ever written by Alfred Tennyson. The central idea of the poem is the loss of a loved one. The emotions the poet indirectly describes pertain to this loss and the medium used to describe it, the sea and all that it consists of also focuses on the feeling of loss and separation.

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– Varsha Singh