Monday, March 14, 2011

Break, Break, Break by Alfred Tennyson

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.

Some thoughts...

on this poem - Tennyson is believed to have written this poem around 1834. The theme is the death of his best friend, Arthur Hallam, who died at the age of twenty-five from cerebral hemorrhage. Hallam was at that time, also engaged to Tennyson's sister. His death affected Tennyson profoundly, and had a major impact on his poetry.

on the poet - Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) is perhaps one of the most beloved lyrical poets of the 19th. Century. His admirers included Queen Victoria who conferred a baronetcy on him. Tennyson was one poet who achieved professional eclat and critical acclaim during his lifetime. He was appointed England's Poet Laureate in 1850 and held that position till his death. He was married and had two sons, one of whom was named Hallam.

on a personal note -  In this poem, Tennyson eloquently gives voice to the grief at the loss of a loved one. The waves crash on the shore, the world goes on, children play, and there may still be joy and beauty in the world, but what does that matter when the heart is breaking, a piece of it lost for ever. 

Overusing the word 'favorite' would render it meaningless.I'm an uncritical admirer of Tennyson. Not a mere versifier, he made language lovelier.

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