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Featured Poem: The Brook by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 22nd July 2013

This week's Featured Poem is a selection from Kim Haygarth, who runs a shared reading group in Manchester. She has been sharing an long-remembered favourite by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

"When I was at primary school everyone used to learn Tennyson's poem The Brook. The first line is 'I come from haunts of coot and hern'.  I read the poem with my group last week and only then did I realise that hern  meant heron - never having bothered to think about it before.  We had a really good session and if you have not already used it I  can thoroughly recommend the poem especially for groups of elderly readers."

Here's the poem to enjoy in full:

The Brook

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 forever.

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 forever.

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 silver water-break
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 forever.

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 forever.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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