But I go on for ever

What is your favorite poem? (And if you don’t have one, why?)

I love ‘The Brook’ by Alfred Tennyson. I remember reading this as a child and imagining a merry brook bubbling and flowing. As I grew older, the brook came to represent a good many things. Sometimes it philosophized to me. Sometimes it conjured up images of restfulness and peace. At others, it reminded me the joys of gay abandon. Some other days, it represented to me the eternal nature of life.

I have gone back to these verses to find reassurance and meaning and take strength occasionally in the irrevocable nature of the course of my life. Sometimes, it reminds me of the promise of things unknown that lie ahead and the fact that the human spirit is indomitable. That no matter what happens, we go on for ever.

The Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

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.

10 comments

  1. My Favourite is The Arrow and the Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Ref : http://quotations.about.com/cs/poemlyrics/a/The_Arrow_And_T.htm

    I shot an arrow into the air,
    It fell to earth, I knew not where;
    For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
    Could not follow it in its flight.

    I breathed a song into the air,
    It fell to earth, I knew not where;
    For who has sight so keen and strong,
    That it can follow the flight of song?

    Long, long afterward, in an oak
    I found the arrow, still unbroke;
    And the song, from beginning to end,
    I found again in the heart of a friend.

  2. The Brook is one of my favorites too.What wonderful imagery – ‘I make the nettled sunbeam dance, against my sandy shallows’ I can almost see it.

    Also love ‘The Solitary reaper'(Wordsworth)
    http://www.bartleby.com/145/ww240.html

    I love your blog. Such a crisp, elegant yet touching writing style.

    • Indira, thanks for stopping by and the compliments on the blog. I like the Solitary reaper too! Interesting the poems we discover by a simple post like this.

  3. There are several that I like, some for the lyrical beauty (choice of words), some for the powerful message they convey and some for the sheer imagination of the poet. Love Ulysses by Tennyson, especially the last few lines – profound meaning but simple words, typical Tennyson, I guess :

    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

    My mom introduced Kamayani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamayani) when I was learning Hindi. Though I never studied as part of the curriculum, somehow this one poem stuck with me – beautiful verses set to a nice beat.

    Several tamil poems come to mind, most of which I learnt as part of my academics, but enjoyed nevertheless – be it by Avvaiyar or Nayanmars or Azhwars or more recently, Bharathiyar / Bharathidasan and the likes. That is one reason I like old Tamil movie songs – the poetic lyrics by Kannadasan / Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram are a sheer joy to listen.

    Guess I should have made a post out of it, instead hogging your comment space 🙂

    • Did not know Kamayani. Thanks for the link. I love songs with beautiful lyrics too. For the longest time Affirmation by Savage Garden was my all time favorite.

    • If is first poem that came to mind but I looked it up and realized Brook affected me at a different level.

  4. Ozymandias comes to mind. So does a lot of hindi dohas, especially this one – Kal karai so aaj kar, aaj karai so aab, phal me paralai hogi, tho bahuri koroge kab? – was an inspiration to a procrastinator like me. Like A-Kay says, I loved movie songs for this reason – especially Vairamuthu’s lyrics. How well he plays with words!

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