Sunday, January 22, 2017


Tennyson wrote a poem called "The Brook" about a small stream in his village Somersby, the village in Lincolnshire where Tennyson grew up. The brook is the little river Lymn. The recurring line is its theme:

"For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever."
This poem by R. S. Thomas is something of a comment on Tennyson's poem, starting out unimpressed with the stream but progressing to an appreciation of the breadth of natural wonders and, more importantly, the creative power of the imagination.

Somersby Brook

This brook was the pulse of his being;I know;
I have seen it,
An insignificant affair, stroking the grasses
In the drab fields.
But when the land is flat and there is nowhere to go,
No hill steep enough to sharpen the mind,
No wood darkening to an old legend,
One ignores the whole and prizes the parts,
Making a forest of the green cress,
A town of the trees’ roots.

So it was then in his young life
Beginning at Somersby;
His thoughts were attuned to the brook’s rhythm;
Its lithe movements, scaly with sunlight,
Startled his mind with a new joy.
And in the dark, if he leaned from his window,
It was as if the night spokeIn shrewd whispers –
And all because of this mean runnel,
Toying idly with a few stones,
Stones that became words in his verse,
Poised and polished in the mind’s stream.
R. S. THOMAS (1954)

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