Why does Tennyson compare himself to the sea in "Break, Break, Break"?

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At the beginning and end of the poem "Break, Break, Break," the speaker implicitly compares himself to the sea. In the first stanza, for example, the speaker describes in the first two lines the waves of the sea breaking against the "cold gray stones" of the shore. In the third and fourth lines, the speaker says that he wishes his tongue could "utter / The thoughts that arise in (him)." Implicitly, he is comparing the constant breaking of the waves against the shore with his own thoughts, which likewise continually ebb and flow and break in his mind.

In the final stanza of the poem, the speaker describes in the first two lines the breaking of the waves against "the foot of (the) crags." In the next two lines, he laments that "the tender grace of a day that is dead / Will never come back to (him)." The comparison here, between himself and the sea, is again implicit. The implication is that the pain and anguish felt by the speaker, as another day comes to an end and he is a little closer to death, is comparable to the breaking of the waves against the crags. The waves in this instance represent time, which the speaker of course can not stop, any more than he can stop the waves.

Overall, the speaker compares himself to the sea to convey how his anguish is constant and inexorable, like the waves. The waves also represent the inevitable passing of time and so perhaps remind the speaker of his own mortality.

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Why does the poet ask the sea waves to break in Tennyson's "Break, Break, Break"?

In this poem, written in the 1835, Tennyson expresses his inability to articulate grief for his close friend, Arthur Henry Hallam, who had died just two years before.

In the poem, the speaker contrasts the ability of the waves to move with his own frozen emotional paralysis. He would like to be able to break out and crash into grief, just as the waves break and crash on the rocks and sands.

The speaker also contrasts himself to the children playing on the shore. The boy shouts as he plays. Likewise, a "sailor lad" sings in his boat. Like the noise of the waves, these sounds bring home to the speaker his own silence and stasis. These young people can express emotion while the speaker cannot.

Finally, as the speaker notes in the last paragraph, the breaking of the waves represents the normalcy of ordinary life going on as it always has. This normalcy has been denied to the speaker since his good friend died, and he wishes it would return.

The speaker wants the waves to break because this symbolizes his own desire to break and crash into grief. He also wants to return to the regularity and normalcy that breaking waves represent to him, but he fears that is impossible.

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