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Break, Break, Break

Break, Break, Break

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Break, Break, Break Analysis

Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

OK, before you think, "snoresville" and head for the "Steaminess Rating," let us explain. A huge part of the effect of this poem is due to the rhythm of the words and the rhyme, and "quatrains in...

Speaker

The unnamed speaker of "Break, Break, Break" is sad. He also tells us that he can't express himself well. Grief has made him tongue-tied. And then he goes on for three more lyrical, lovely stanz...

Setting

We're at the seaside. Now, before you start imagining palm trees and white beaches, we should add that we're by the sea on a coast in England somewhere. The sea is gray, and the coast is rocky....

Sound Check

This is a poem that manages to sound a lot like what it describes. The steady, lulling rhythm of the poem – the repetition, with slight differences, of the same sounds over and over – sounds l...

What's Up With the Title?

The title of the poem is just the first line: "Break, break, break." In the context of the poem, it's the speaker telling the sea waves to "break, break, break" against the rocks. But lots of oth...

Calling Card

Tennyson often complains (in his poems) about his inability to express himself properly. Well, he wrote enough beautiful poetry that we're not really convinced that he had a problem, but he seemed...

Tough-o-Meter

The language of this poem is pretty straightforward – not too many unfamiliar words to trip up unwary readers. But there are some more difficult poetic tools (check out the "Symbolism" section f...

Trivia

Tennyson's best friend from college, Arthur Henry Hallam, died suddenly in 1833. They had known each other and been friends for only six years, but Tennyson mourned him for the rest of his life, s...

Steaminess Rating

Sorry, but there is absolutely no sex in this poem. It's about a guy standing by the ocean thinking about how much he misses his dead friend. If you want a sexier Victorian poem, we suggest you tr...
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