Break, Break, Break
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Stanza 1 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
- The speaker addresses the ocean directly, telling the waves to "break, break, break" onto the stony shore.
- After telling the sea to keep doing its thing, the speaker regrets that he can't express his thoughts.
- He doesn't come out and say, "I can't utter/ the thoughts," he says that his "tongue" can't "utter" them. This makes him seem kind of passive – he's not speaking, his "tongue" is doing it.
- He's not really thinking, either – the thoughts "arise in" him almost spontaneously, without effort.