Class 9 – English Literature Reader – Brook

The Poet

Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire. He wrote many short poems like ‘The Lady of Shallot’, ‘The Princess’, ‘Ulysses’, ‘The Palace of Art’ etc. He retained interest in poetry when the novel was becoming very popular.

The Summary

The Brook’ is one of the best poems of Lord Tennyson, It is ah autobiography of a brook The poem describes the origin of the brook, its passage, the sounds made by it and the different movements that it undergoes.
The brook is personified in this poem. It narrates its own story and describes its journey of life. It says that it emerges from the places which are frequently visited by water birds like ‘coots and hems.’ It emerges suddenly to flow down a valley with a lot of noise.
During its journey it passes many hills, ridges, towns, villages and bridges. Its mood is revealed by the noise or sound that it makes when it moves on the pebbles, it makes a joyous noise, whereas it shows its anger when it makes many curves on the bank and follows a zig-zag passage. The brook also passes many a ‘fairy foreland’ which are covered with willow-weed and mallow (a plant). Then it joins the brimming river.
On its way, the brook finds manly lusty trouts and graylings (names of fish). Many flowers blossom on its surface. The transparent water makes its bottom look clear.
It passes silently by lawns, grassy plots and small hazel trees. Swallows touch the water as they fly overhead. The sunbeams dance happily on its shining water. The brook slips, slides, glooms and glances merrily as it flows endlessly.
It murmurs when it passes through the thorny wilderness at night under the dim-light of the moon and the stars. It flows very slowly when it passes the strange places. It then curves and flows to join the brimming river. Its journey seems to be endless as it says “Men may come and men may go, but 1 go on forever.”
The Central Idea  
This poem parallels the journey of the brook with the human life. It makes us realize that human life is transitory whereas the brook’s existence is eternal. The brook then compares and contrasts itself with the human life. Just as the brook passes through many ups and downs throughout its journey, man also faces many ups and downs in his life. So neither the life of a man nor the journey of the brook is smooth. The only difference between the two is that human journey ends when it attains death whereas the brook’s journey is eternal and continuous. Man is mortal, but the brook is immorfal. Thus, human beings should also accept that struggles, ups and downs are part of life and they must try to overcome them like the brook which continually shows movement despite the hurdles in its journey.
Explanation of the Poem
1. I come ……….a valley.
Explanation
The brook i.e. a small river has been personified in this poem. It says that it originates or takes birth from the places which are regularly frequented by coots and herns (water birds). The brook emerges suddenly and flows down noisily, sparkling through the ferns.
Poetic Devices:
Personification : I come from haunts of coot and hem.
I make a sudden sally.
Alliteration: I come from haunts of coot and hem.
I make a sudden sally.
2. By thirty…………. hundred bridges.
Explanation
The brook then flows down hurriedly through thirty hills. It slips between the ridges, passes through twenty villages and a little town and flows down fifty bridges.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: By thirty hills I hurry down.
Alliteration: By thirty hills I hurry down.
By twenty thorpes, a little town.
And half a hundred bridges.
3. Till last…………. on forever.
Explanation
The brook flows near the Philip’s farm in the end and joins the river which is full of water. Then the brook compares its journey to the human journey of life by saying that men may take birth or die in their journey of life but the life of a brook is continuous and never-ending. It keeps on flowing forever and does not stop anywhere.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: Till last by Philip’s farm I flow.
But I go on forever.
Alliteration: Till last by Philip’s farm I flow.
For men may come and men may go.
4. I chatter …………….on the pebbles.
Explanation
The brook flows noisily, as if chattering, when passing through the story way. It also makes high-pitched sounds.
It creates happy sounds when it enters the spiral waters of the bays or strikes against the pebbles.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: I chatter over story ways.
1 bubble into eddying bays.
I babble on the pebbles.
Alliteration: I bubble into eddying bays.
5. With many………… and mallow.
Explanation
The brook moves on in its journey towards the Philip’s farm. It moves in curves. Sometimes it shows anger when it strikes against the brooks. During its journey# it crosses many fields and fallows and forelands which look like the land of fairies. It passes through willow weeds and mallow plants in its journey.
Poetic Devices: :
Personification: With many a curve my banks I fret.
Alliteration: By many a field and fallow.
And many a fairy foreland set.
With willow-weed and mallow.
6. I chatter……………. forever.
Explanation
The brook keeps on moving and chatters as it moves. Its main aim is to join the brimming river. The journey of the brook is never-ending as compared to the journey of a man who takes birth and dies with the passage of time.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: I chatter chatter as I flow.
But I go on for ever
Alliteration: For men may come and man may go.
Repetition: I chatter chatter as I flow.
For men may come and men may go.
7. I wind………… a grayling.
Explanation
The brook goes on flowing in a zig-zag manner. It becomes a source of life for the blossoms that sail in its clear water. Varieties of fishes like trout and grayling can also be seen in its water
Poetic Devices:
Personification: I wind about in and out.
Oxymoron: I wind about in and out.
And here and there a lusty trout.
And here and there a grayling.
8. And here………… golden gravel.
Explanation
Foamy flakes can be seen on the water of the brook as it moves ahead. The water of the brook gives a silvery appearance as it passes over the golden gravel.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: Upon me as I travel.
Alliteration: And here and there a foamy flake.
Above the golden gravel.
Repetition: For men may come and men may go.
Alliteration: For men may come and men may go.
Oxymoron: For men may come and men may go.
9. And draw then……………. on forever.
Explanation
The brook carries the flakes, blossoms, fish etc. along with it on its journey towards the brimming river. Its journey is eternal unlike that of men who enter this world and then die as their journey of life is temporary.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: But I go on forever.
10. I steal ………………. for happy lovers.
Explanation
Oxymoron: And here and there a foamy flake.
When the brook reaches the lawns and grassy plots, it starts moving silently. It sides stealthily by hazelnut bushes, carrying away the sweet flowers named forget-me-nots which grew for happy lovers.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: I steal by lawns and grassy plots.
I slide by hazel covers.
I move the sweet forget-me-nots.
11. I slip …………….. sandy shallows.
The brook slips and slides silently. Sometimes it appears to be sad but sometimes it appears to be happy shining in the sunlight. The swallows fly over it. When the rays of the sun fall on it, they seem to make a net which dances against its sandy shallows.
Poetic Device:
Personification: I slip I slide I gloom I glance.
Among my skimming swallows.
I make the netted sunbeam dance.
Against my sandy shallows.
Alliteration: I slip I slide.
1 gloom I glance.
Among my skimming swallows.
12. I murmur …………….. round my cresses.
Explanation
The brook moves through the brambly wildernesses under the moon and stars at night. It produces only a murmuring sound. Then it moves leisurely over the areas covered with small rounded pebbles and round the cresses—a pungent leaved plant which grows near its bank.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: I murmur under moon and stars.
I linger by my shingly bars.
I loiter round my cresses.
Alliteration: I murmur under moon and stars.
13. And out ………………forever.
Explanation
Then the brook takes a curve and comes out. It flows towards its destination—the brimming river. Because whatever may happen the journey of the brook is continuous, eternal and never-ending unlike the journey of the man which is temporary.
Poetic Devices:
Personification: And out again I curve and flow.
But I go on forever.
Alliteration: For men may come and men may go.
Repetition: For men may come and men may go.
Oxymoron: For men may come and men may go.
Rhyme scheme of all stanzas: abab.
Refrain: For men may come and men may go.
But I go on for ever.