Line by Line Summary of The Brook
“The Brook” is a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson that reflects on the nature of life and the passage of time. The poem uses the brook as a metaphor for the journey of life. Here’s a line-by-line summary:
- I come from haunts of coot and hern: The speaker introduces themselves as coming from a place where waterbirds like coots and herons live.
- I make a sudden sally: The brook starts its journey abruptly.
- And sparkle out among the fern: It flows and shines among the ferns.
- To bicker down a valley: The brook moves energetically down a valley.
- By thirty hills I hurry down: The brook flows down thirty hills.
- Or slip between the ridges: It also slips between ridges of land.
- By twenty thorpes, a little town: It passes by twenty small villages or towns.
- And half a hundred bridges: It crosses over fifty bridges.
- Till last by Philip’s farm I flow: Finally, it flows near Philip’s farm.
- To join the brimming river: It merges with a full-flowing river.
- For men may come and men may go: People come and go in life.
- But I go on forever: Yet the brook’s journey continues endlessly.
- I chatter over stony ways: The brook makes a chattering sound over rocky paths.
- In little sharps and trebles: It produces high-pitched sounds like sharps and trebles in music.
- I bubble into eddying bays: It forms bubbles in swirling corners of the water.
- I babble on the pebbles: The brook babbles as it flows over pebbles.
- With many a curve my banks I fret: The brook’s banks are curved and eroded by its flow.
- By many a field and fallow: It passes by many fields and uncultivated land.
- And many a fairy foreland set: It encounters many fairy-like promontories or headlands.
- With willow-weed and mallow: Covered with plants like willow-weed and mallow.
- I chatter, chatter, as I flow: The brook continues to chatter as it flows.
- To join the brimming river: Repeating its desire to merge with the full river.
- For men may come and men may go: Again, emphasizing the transient nature of human life.
- But I go on forever: While the brook’s journey is eternal.
The poem ultimately contrasts the fleeting nature of human existence with the perpetual movement of nature, as symbolized by the brook.