Break Break Break ( Alfred Tennyson )
Break, break, break,On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!And I would that my tongue could utterThe 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 onTo 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, breakAt the foot of thy crags, O Sea!But the tender grace of a day that is deadWill never come back to me.
More than any other Victorian writer, Tennyson has seemed the embodiment of his age, both to his contemporaries and to modern readers. In his own day he was said to be—with Queen Victoria and Gladstone—one of the three most famous living persons, a reputation no other poet writing in English has ever had.
As official poetic spokesman for the reign of Victoria, he felt called upon to celebrate a quickly changing industrial and mercantile world with which he felt little in common, for his deepest sympathies were called forth by an unaltered rural England; the conflict between what he thought of as his duty to society and his allegiance to the eternal beauty of nature seems peculiarly Victorian. Even his most severe critics have always recognized his lyric gift for sound and cadence, a gift probably unequaled in the history of English poetry, but one so absolute that it has sometimes been mistaken for mere facility.