Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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What is a summary of the poem "The Brook" written by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

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Angie Waters eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem The Brook is a poem about perseverance and presence and how time may affect many things but nature will still persist even as things may change. It is significant that Tennyson uses personification and the seemingly unassuming brook that "chatters" in such a sweet tone actually reveals its superiority over everything else, especially people as "men may come and men may go, But I go on for ever." The brook is the constant in a changing world. The use of figurative language and repetition gives it a recognizable rhythm and even creates the impression of a winding path as Tennyson alternates the meter and uses a rhyme and tone which reveal a playful approach and a fast pace. 

Tennyson centers his poem on nature and indicates Man's inferior position compared to the brook. In fact, the brook indicates how important its role is in ensuring that nature continues unheeded and everything that needs to will "join the brimming river." It is likely that people barely recognize its presence or its importance unless attention is drawn to it. Despite everything, the brook endures, even though its journey is not always easy. It has to "bicker," "fret" and "steal" to reach its destination, but it is worth it.

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The title of Tennyson's poem "The Brook" gives the greatest clue as the what the poem is about. The poem personifies a brook (personification- giving of human characteristics to a non-human/non-living thing) by giving the brook the ability to describe itself. Outside of the entire poem being one of personification, the following line is a specific line exampling the poetic device:

I chatter over stony ways.

A brook cannot chatter (to talk incessantly/continuously), but people can. This makes the line contain personification.

As for the theme of the poem (know that themes of poetry may change given subjective thought of a reader), the theme of this poem is persistence. The brook, regardless of what it passes, will continue on "forever".  No matter what bumps it must pass over, no matter the twists and turns, the brook will sustain.

One could look at the poem as one of mirroring life. No matter what the challenges a person will face, with persistence one can conquer all.