How is the nature depicted? How is the lyrical ego depicted? What is the relationship between the nature and the lyrical ego?
What literary devices are used in this poem and what are their meanings?
Short Answer to the four questions:
- Nature is depicted as the objective world
- The lyrical ego is the internal world of emotions
- The relationship between nature and the lyrical ego is this: Nature is the objective correlative of the melancholic and grieving mood of the speaker
- Literary devices that are used in this poem are rhythm and rhyme, refrain, personification, apostrophe, alliteration, synecdoche [this is the correct spelling], and figurative language. (These will be explained below)
A favorite of Queen Victoria, Alfred Lord Tennyson possessed the technical proficiency and the intellectual and emotional range to make his mark upon the period of his time. His poem "Break, Break, Break" has a moving evocation of melancholic and deep emotion for which the external world provides the objective correlative. That is, there is a relationship between the external and the internal world as the rhythm and the modulating sound of the refrain "Break, break, break" conveys the poignancy of feeling in the speaker. Furthermore, the speaker views the movement of nature as the ships travel "To their haven under the hill," as a melancholic reminder of the end of movement for him because his friend is "vanish'd" in death and he can find no haven. Nor will the "tender grace of a day" return to him as it is now gone ("dead") with the loss of his close friend. [Critics believe that this poem, like Tennyson's In Memoriam, a moving elegy, was written about his beloved friend, Arthur Henry Hallam]
There are a number of literary and poetic devices used in this poem:
- rhythm and rhyme - the lyrical rhythm imitates that of English speech: Iambic tetrameter, although at times it is irregular. The rhyme scheme is abcb.
- refrain - this is a line that is repeated to create a musical effect an impression of thought: "Break, break, break." As the waves of the sea break against the rocks, the sound, as the objective correlative, echoes the feelings in the heart of the speaker.
- personification - figurative language in which a nonhuman subject is given human characteristics. The poet addresses the sea as though it were a person: "O Sea!"
- apostrophe - The addressing of an absent person or a personified quality, object, or idea: "O Sea!" is also apostrophe.
- alliteration - The repetition of an initial consonant sound, which serves to accelerate a line of poetry: "haven under the hill" /h/
- synedoche - A figure of speech in which part of something is used for the whole: "vanish'd hand" and "voice" are used to represent Tennyson's deceased friend Arthur Henry Hallam.
- figure of speech - "the tender grace of day" is a poetic way of the speaker's recalling the feelings of being with a dear friend.