Summary of “The Brook” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Lord Tennyson was one among the most popular British Poets. He was excellent in writing short lyrics. Tennyson wrote poem right from his teens along with his two elder brothers and it was locally published when Alfred was seventeen.

In 1833 he published his second book, which received a lot of criticism and which discouraged Tennyson and made him stay away for more than ten years from another publication.

Tennyson used a wide range of subject matter for his poetry which ranged from medieval legends to classical myths, from observation from nature to domestic situations. He was a craftsman, who polished his manuscripts according to time, which very few other poets did. He experimented in adapting the quantitative meters of Greek and Latin poetry into English.

The Brook is a poem that draws a resemblance between the journey of the brook and the life of man. The circle of life from childhood to old age and then back to childhood is what is being depicted through this poem as the flow from a brook.


As the poem says initially, the brook comes out with a sudden hush and strength that it could just flow down the hills and bridges in such force that it flows through many places, just in a snap of time, similarly is how one’s childhood is. Very much energetic and active that they just move around from place to place just like a spin.

The next stage of life is shown, which depicts the youth is shown as the brook is chattering over stones in little sharps and trebles, with bubbly spirit always, just lushes by at the bays and banks, just like how it goes with the youth, with the bubbly energy and don’t care attitude, they could just rule the world with their deeds is how they think and that is how the poet has shown by putting in the lines the brook bubbles into eddying bays and babble on pebbles.

He then describes about middle age period, about the ups and downs of life and how at times it gets tough to get life moving through the poem where it shows how the brook when passing many curves, fields and fallow (bare lands) and sometime over fairy lands and sometimes over willow-weed and mallow, sometimes has a foamy flake and sometimes over a silver water break above the golden gravel. Still, life gets moving just like water keeps flowing.

He lastly comes to the old age times where, the strength is no more and weakness felt, where memories of past linger through the lines in the poem which shows that the brook passes through lawns and grassy plots, where is flow is not tedious and moves the sweet forget-me nots which are grown for happy lovers. The brook just flows by as a murmur through the skimming shadows, and around crevices.


The last stanza depicts how once again the life is filled with energy and the cycle completed and the childhood again reflected by saying that the brook once again flows out a curve with all the strength and continues its journey, no matter when men may come and men may go.

A poem beautifully depicted the different stages of life, through the story of a brook and the routes its travels over a period of time and keeps the cycle going, no matter what or who comes and goes, it does not leave any impact on the cycle.