Seething Waters Breaking On Grey Stones


Alfred, Lord Tennyson was not given to a note of melancholy when a full-blown aria would do just as well:

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 vanished 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.

You can imagine him and Queen Victoria egging each other on after the death of Albert. Sometimes it is good to wallow in misery, but sometimes is better to go for the Marcus Aurelius approach:

Be like a cliff at whose foot the waves break and break again; but it stands firm and by and by the seething waters about it sink to rest.

The illustration is ‘Rocky Cliff with Stormy Sea, Cornwall’ (1902) by William Trost Richards via Wikimedia.

About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
This entry was posted in Poetry, Quotation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Seething Waters Breaking On Grey Stones

  1. gnstr says:

    Laugh at the pedestals, mock the sea lions
    break break break!

  2. hopeeternal says:

    Lovely picture and poem combination.

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