The Brook: Summary

Last updated on July 28th, 2021 at 08:07 pm

The brook coils and twists on its way to the river. An occasional flower can be seen on its surface. The floating blossom appears to be sailing on the brook. The brook is also home to freshwater fish such as trout and grayling. The trout is a vigorous and energetic fish. Hence Tennyson calls it ‘lusty.’

Due to occasional turbulent flow, flakes of foam are produced, which float on the flowing brook. Water breaks are breaks on the brook’s surface caused by the unevenness of its bed. These water breaks reflect the sun that makes them appear silver. Gravel is usually of a brownish-yellow hue. Hence the phrase, ‘golden gravel.’

The brook draws along with it several floating objects as it flows towards the river. Here the poem’s refrain is repeated.

The brook flows by grassy stretches. It passes by land covered with hazel (a type of shrub). Forget-me-nots are low-growing plants with bright blue flowers. They often grow on the banks of streams, sometimes even touching the water surface. Forget-me-not flowers are often a sign of faithfulness and enduring love. Hence they are often associated with lovers. As the brook flows, it gently moves the flowers that touch the water.

The brook uses the words ‘slip’, ‘slide,’ ‘gloom,’ ‘glance’ to describe its movements.

Swallows often hunt for insects on the water surface. They skim the water surface to capture the insects. The brook glides among these ‘skimming swallows.’

The brook is constantly moving. It also carries with it numerous fish, floating blossoms, etc. Swallows often fly over it. Hence the sunlight that falls on the bed of the brook appears like a net instead of a continuous entity. Sandy shallows refer to the shallow part of the brook that contains a lot of deposited sand and silt. As the brook moves, the ‘netted sunbeam’ falling on the shallow bed appears to dance.


Wilderness refers to a wild and uninhabited region. Brambles are often found in such places. Hence Tennyson refers to such regions as ‘brambly wildernesses.’ On quiet nights, as the brook passes over numerous pebbles and uneven land, it makes a certain sound. In the silent wilderness, such sounds can be clearly heard. The sound reminds one of murmuring. It is as if the brook is talking to itself.

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Shingles are accumulated masses of small pebbles. Elevated regions in a brook made of such an accumulated mass, deposited by flow, are referred to as ‘shingly bars.’ Shingles are usually found in the slowest moving part of a brook. Hence the brook says that it ‘lingers’ by such places. Cresses, in this case, refer to watercress that often grows on the edges of brooks. As the brook passes these tufts of watercress, its water seems to coalesce among the plants. Hence Tennyson uses the word ‘loiter’ is used.

The brook leaves the wilderness, the ‘shingly bars’ and the watercress behind, and flows in graceful curves towards the river.

It ends with the refrain that although human life is transient, the flow of the brook is perpetual.

You may also want to take a look at this video playlist to learn about this poem in an audio-visual format.

Other than The Brook: Summary, you can also refer to the Summary of the Brook in Hindi.