“Break, Break, Break”

Break, Break, Break

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.

What is this poem about? Write a paragraph about the subject and mood, using quotes from the poem as evidence.

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19 responses

  1. This poem is about the sea and waves breaking. When you read the poem you realize that because of lines like “On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!” The poem is happy at first when the author talks about a boy and his sister at play and the fisherman on his boat singing. Towards the end of the poem the mood shifts from quite cheerful to serious and gloomy. At the end of the poem you realize that the author knew somebody who died in the poem with lines like “But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand”.

  2. The poem is about the sea and how the waves break. You know this because of the title “Break,Break,Break” and all of the links to things that are in the sea, ” …fisherman’s boy… salior lad… boat on the bay…ships…”. Although sometimes the subject of the peom is hard to recognise.The mood of the poem slightly varies among cheerful, melancholy and distant.

  3. “Break, break, break,”, “On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!” these lines suggest the subject is the sea. These lines also suggest that this poem is an extended metaphor suggesting that the sea is someone’s heart. “But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,” this line suggest the death of someone which makes this poem malencony. But in the second stanza when it says “…sister at play… he sings in his boat on the bay” is suggesting a happy mood. This stanza could be a thought or reflection of good times they had with the person that has died.

  4. “Break, Break, Break” is a poem with many conflicting subjects and an intense mood. The initial subject of the poem is the sea, “Break, break, break, on thy cold gray stones, O Sea!” This line gives the impression of waves breaking on the coast. However, the subject changes towards the end, from the sea to the feelings of losing a loved one, “But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand.” Yet these two subjects are connected, it seems that the loved one was lost at sea, because the writer talks of “stately ships go on to their haven under the hill,” which gives the impression that the loved one died at sea, but it was only him or her. Although the subject changes, the mood doesn’t. The overall mood is melancholy. The writer finds it hard to speak at the start, “And I would that my tongue could utter the thoughts that arise in me,” then moves to gaze upon others with envy, and the poem finally ends with a saddening end line, “But the tender grace of a day that is dead will never come back to me.”

    • Revised paragraph:
      “Break, Break, Break” is a poem with many subjects and an intense mood. The initial impression of the subject is the sea, experienced from the first two lines: “Break, break, break, on thy cold gray stones, O Sea!” These lines give the impression of waves breaking on the coast. However, the subject changes towards the end, from the sea to the feelings of losing a loved one, “But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand.” Yet these two subjects are connected, it seems that the loved one was lost at sea, because of the many references to the sea. Although the subject moves, the mood doesn’t. The overall mood is melancholy and a sense of loneliness. The atmosphere of sadness is created in the first and last stanzas, along with the second half of the third; “And I would that my tongue could utter the thoughts that arise in me… but the tender grace of a day that is dead will never come back to me.” The sense of loneliness is created from the middle stanzas, because in those stanzas, the poet has described life moving on and people acting oblivious to the poet’s feelings; “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 stately ships go on to their haven under the hill.”

  5. This poem is initially thought to be about the sea through lines such as “Break, Break, Break” followed by “On thy cold grey stones, O Sea!”. Suggest waves breaking on the coastline. The second stanza goes on to explain other people’s happiness and moods. Towards the end of the poem it turns into deep and meaningful thoughts of death. Lines such as “But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand” followed by “And the sound of a voice that is still” suggest death of a loved one or someone who was close to you. The way the poem has been written suggests that he is reliving a memory.

  6. ”Break Break Break on thy cold gray stones o Sea!” initially gives you the impression the this poem is about the sea. After reading the whole poem it is understandable that this poem has a very deep and melancholy mood. ”On thy cold gray stones o Sea!” gives the deeper impression of a grave stone or death that has been influenced by the unpredictable ocean. The author also gives the impression that him or her had role in the attempt to save this loved one as he wrote, ”But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand”. When the death first occurred the author found it hard to speak which shows that this person was very important to him or her as he says ” I would that my tongue could utter”. In the last stanza the author gives the idea that the author wants to move on, as he writes ”But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me”.

  7. The poem is about a person looking at the happiness surrounding them but they are grieving the death of someone. The person is most likely situated by a rocky seaside, Because of the clues in the first line. ‘Break, Break, Break, on the cold gray stones, oh sea.’ The sentence says oh sea and creates a sound of the sea crashing into rocks. The second stanza creates a happy image of a brother and sister playing together and a sailor who is singing on his boat. ‘And the stately ships go on to their haven under the hill.’ Is describing how the mood is safe and calm. The sentence ‘But oh for the touch of a vanish’d hand, and the sound of a voice that is still.’ Illustrates to me that someone is missing or vanished. Which is why I think that someone has past away that was important to the person.

  8. Break Break Break

    ‘Break break break’ is a poem with a sea-side setting. The repetition of the word ‘break’ sets the mood of the sea-side and creates the mental image of waves crashing. The poem has a melancholy mood to it. Words like ‘cold’ and ‘gray’ contribute to the miserable mood. The first two lines of the first stanza seem as though the poem is about the sea ‘on thy cold gray stones, O sea!’. However, as the poem progresses, a sad and deliberate metaphor arises. There are hints of the death of a loved one and references to not being able to express ones self. ‘And I would that my tongue cold utter the thoughts arise in me’ suggest the distress of thoughts crashing and breaking in the poet’s mind and not being able to verbalize them, the metaphor of the waves breaking on the rocks. Other lines also hint of death and tragedy ‘But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand, And the sound of a voice that is still!’ words and phrases such as ‘vanish’d hand’ and ‘voice that is still’ confirm that the subject is about someone who has been lost.

  9. Break Break Break is a poem about the sea-side and, what I believe about the death of a love one. The poetic devices that are spread throughout the poem. The word Break is repeated in the poem, this is called repitition, this sets the mood of the waves breaking on the beach. The poem is very misrable because of the death of a death words. The first two stanzas describe the beach and who is on it while the second two describe the death of a loved one. My touge could utter the thoughts arise me tell us about how the poet desccribes how he feels about the death of a friend.

  10. I think this poem is about someone grieving about a loved one dying. I think they passed away at sea as the poem refers to the sea a lot. The poem starts with a feeling of melancholy and then you start to feel sad as you experience what the person is going through. You can really feel his pain when the poem states ‘Will never come back to me’ The poem has repition “break, break, break’. Also in the second stanza he seems happy as he is reliving a memory.

  11. Break, break, break talks about the grieving of a lost loved one. The first stanza talks about how the poet is lost for words due to the sudden death. Secondly he continues explaining what appears as memories of children. The poem makes you assume that he/she was lost at sea due to the constant reference. He constantly uses the plosive sounds in the first and fourth stanza assuming that the poet wants you to understand how quickly life is able to be taken. Although the second and third stanza uses those long sounds to give forward a melancholy mood.

  12. The poem is about a man who has lost someone who he loved at sea. This is clear when the poet writes ‘But the tender grace of a day that is day’. This is also proved when he writes ‘But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand’. We are also led to believe that it is someone close to him that he loves when he says ‘Will never come back to me’. There are 4 stanzas with a rhyming pattern of A B C B rhyming pattern. This is done to show that life goes on and the rhythm is there to reflect the movement of the waves. The mood is quite melancholy and depressing as the main subject is about death.

  13. “Break, Break, Break” is a poem that is about the loss of life. The poet uses language for the ear to express the mood. The poet explains his confusions of how everyone in the world is moving on with their life and being happy, while he feels like his world has stopped while he grieves. He says in the first stanza that he doesn’t know how to express his feelings. They are in his head but he can’t express them. The poet is expressing his feelings of grief and suffering through the loss of a loved one in “Break,Break,Break”.

  14. The poem, ‘break, break, break’ has a subject of the ocean, particularly the waves. You can tell this because of all the references to the sea, for example, ‘..O sea…’, ‘… sailor lad…’, ‘…ships…’ Even though the subject can be occasionally hidden, in stanzas 1-3 it is not so. The mood of the poem differs from cheerful to distant and melancholy.

  15. Initially, the subject is thought to be the sea with the first line being “Break, break, break” suggesting the breaking of waves. The first stanza helps support this statement as it describes the motion of the sea. However, the second part of the first stanza talks about the horrible feeling of not being able to speak one’s mind suggesting a different subject. Later in the third stanza however the poet indicates that the subject has now changed to death. The mood is a mixture of grief of a lost loved one and the joy of being at sea. A perfect example of this is the third stanza. The first and second line convey a mood of joy and the love of ships as the poet writes; “And the stately ship goes on to their haven under the hill;…” however the third and fourth convey a mood of grief and pain as the poem says “But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand, and the sound of a voice that is still! In conclusion, the poet has blended the sea and death together into one poem that says it all. The mood is shrouded in mystery and one must look deeper into the poem’s soul to understand that it is about the love of the sea as well as grief and pain.

  16. I believe this poem is about the sea and the sound of waves breaking on the shore. I also believe this poem is about death becuase it refers to death alot. This poem evokes melancholy emotions In lines like ‘will never come back to me’ and ‘But the tender grace of a day that is dead’. At the bigining of the poem the mood is happy but towards the middle and end the poet makes it more sad and gloomy indicating that there has been a death.

  17. The poem ‘Break, Break, Break’ revolves around ideas of death and love for, although unstated, a lost one. This has been made parallel with the sea, obvious in various lines throughout the poem. This poem includes four stanzas, each with its own rhyming pattern of ABCB…ABCB and so forth, possibly implemented by the poet to create an analogy of the movement of the ocean – the waves moving in a constant pattern. When further analysed, this pattern and rhythm could have also possibly been implemented to describe the constant routine of life, before and after the death of the poet’s ‘lost one’.

  18. The poem “Break Break Break” is set at the seaside, the sea is grey and the beach is rocky as it says ‘thy cold gray stones’ in the first stanza. As it is shown in the poem, the speaker is sad and he can’t express himself well. Grief has made him tongue-tied ‘And I would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me.’ The repetition of “Break, Break, Break” suggests the consistency of the speaker’s grief and also its slow-but-steady evolution. Furthermore, the repetition of ‘O’ in the second stanza is also intended to express deep pain of the speaker.

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