The Inspiration for “The Brook”

The inspiration for the “the brook” came from this poem I liked when I was in Kindergarden in Calcutta, India. I have italicized the lines that stayed in my mind and rang, for more than 60 years:

`O babbling brook,’ says Edmund in his rhyme,
`Whence come you?’ and the brook, why not? replies.

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip’s farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Poor lad, he died at Florence, quite worn out,
Travelling to Naples. There is Darnley bridge,
It has more ivy; there the river; and there
Stands Philip’s farm where brook and river meet.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

`But Philip chatter’d more than brook or bird;
Old Philip; all about the fields you caught
His weary daylong chirping, like the dry
High-elbow’d grigs that leap in summer grass. [grig = cricket – m.]

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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