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41. Men may come and men may go - Lord Tennyson

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson

(6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was a British poet. He was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets. In 1829, Tennyson was awarded the Chancellor's Gold Medal at Cambridge for one of his first pieces, "Timbuktu." He published his first solo collection of poems, Poems Chiefly Lyrical in 1830. "Claribel" and "Mariana", which remain some of Tennyson's most celebrated poems, were included in this volume. Although decried by some critics as overly sentimental, his verse soon proved popular and brought Tennyson to the attention of well-known writers of the day, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Tennyson's early poetry, with its medievalism and powerful visual imagery, was a major influence on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Tennyson also excelled at penning short lyrics, such as "Break, Break, Break", "The Charge of the Light Brigade", "Tears, Idle Tears", and "Crossing the Bar". Much of his verse was based on classical mythological themes, such as "Ulysses", although "In Memoriam A.H.H." was written to commemorate his friend Arthur Hallam, a fellow poet and student at Trinity College, Cambridge, after he died of a stroke at the age of 22.[4] Tennyson also wrote some notable blank verse including Idylls of the King, "Ulysses", and "Tithonus". During his career, Tennyson attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success.

The Brook - The Poem

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 thorpes, 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.

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.

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.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,

   I slide by hazel covers;

I move the sweet forget-me-nots

   That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,

   Among my skimming swallows;

I make the netted sunbeam dance

   Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars

   In brambly wildernesses;

I linger by my shingly bars;

   I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow

   To join the brimming river,

For men may come and men may go,

   But I go on for ever.

Gist of the Brook :

The vigorous brook pulls the pebbles, flower petals, and fish along with it as it rushes to join up with the large river . Suddenly, the brook rushes forward. The sunlight glitters on the water as the brook weaves through greenery that grows beside the stream bank. The brook then flows gently into a valley.

Gaining momentum, the brook tumbles down many hills and seeps through narrow crevices on some of the hillsides. Along the way, the brook passes several villages and a small town, and flows underneath lots of bridges.

Finally, the brook glides past a farm that belongs to a man named Philip. The brook is on its way to be absorbed by the river, which is already huge and overflowing. The brook claims that while humans live short, impermanent lives, the brook itself will always endure.

Picking its journey back up, the brook rushes over stone paths and streets, sounding like music as it flows over the rocks. The brook pools into bays filled with churning water and then tumbles over small stones that line the shore or are at the bottom of the bay.

Rushing along, the brook makes little trickling noises as it travels to the almost overflowing river. The brook reminds the listener that human life is fleeting, but the brook itself is eternal.

The vigorous brook pulls the pebbles, flower petals, and fish along with it as it rushes to join up with the large river. The rippling water nudges wildflowers called forget-me-nots that grow along the stream bank; the brook says these particular wildflowers are meant for people who are blissfully in love.

Once again, the brook continues its winding journey to merge with the big river. The brook reminds listeners that although individual humans are born and die, the brook is eternal.


British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson penned “The Brook” in 1886, just six years before his death. The poem is a ballad in which the speaker—the brook, or stream, itself—undertakes a long and winding journey across the countryside to join up with a large river.

Tucked inside this seemingly sweet poem about a little stream are darker, more poignant themes of death, human impermanence, and nature's indifference to humankind, though the poem also emphasizes nature's sheer beauty.

The poem’s most notable characteristic is its refrain, “For men may come and men may go, / But I go on for ever,” which appears four times throughout the poem and captures both the fleetingness of human life and the constancy of nature. These two lines have entered into the common man's life, signalling the true success of the poet, conjures his imagination in the bylanes of folkore .

Whether its a corporate life or normal life, these lines refrains one from aggression, if not permanently ( also sometimes permanently ) , atleast temporarily. It will bring to Individual attention that, no one is permament except the Nature and We are all Tenants on this Mother Earth with stipulated life spans.So, Be cautious before making stern comments or statements.

MM Rao


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