Tennyson's poem, "Break, Break, Break," is an elegiac poem with a mournful, longing tone. The speaker mourns and longs for "the touch of a vanish'd hand" and for "the sound of a voice that is still." The vanished hand and the stilled voice allude to the death of someone that the speaker loved, commonly believed to be Arthur Hallam, a fellow poet and close friend of Tennyson's.
In the final stanza, the tone of the poem is also reflective and despondent. The speaker concludes with the acknowledgement that his loved one "Will never come back" to him. The speaker recognizes the finality of his loss, which he refers to metaphorically as "the tender grace of a day that is dead."
The line, "Break, break, break," which begins both the first and last stanzas, also lends to the poem a tone of painful desperation. Ostensibly the speaker is referring to the sea crashing against the crags, but implicitly he is also referring to his own life and his own heart, both of which seem broken and beyond repair.