Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Brook - Tennyson: analysis

I come from haunts of coot and hern,

Personification I=the brook
Eight syllables, Four iambic feet (Tetrameter)
Coots and hern – where water birds live … haunts gives a mystery to the origin of the brook
Alliteration H and H

I make a sudden sally

Six syllables three iambic feet (Trimeter)
Short and direct with emphasis on the S alliteration and the sound
of water … sally = to set out from a place to do something

And sparkle out among the fern,

Back to eight syllables
You can almost see the water coming out of the greenery into sunlight
Another S

to bicker down a valley.

Then six syllables again
Bicker = argue … the water when in a rush is in conflict with anything in its way

Q1 … Why is bicker a better choice of word than argue?

The lines flow between tetrameter and trimeter with rhyming scheme abab. The brook flows slow in long text and then fast by using short text.

The iambic 8-6 syllable variation and abab rhyme scheme set the musical pattern of the poem.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Thorp = a village or hamlet

Q2 … How do the numbers add to the poem?

More H H alliteration
Look at the close rhyming … one letter variation.

Q3 … Does this add to the reading?

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.

The last three lines become a repetition (refrain) throughout the poem. They appear in 4 stanzas and they all have the same rhyme words (flow, river, go ever). Repetition increases the chance that readers will remember words.

Q4 … What do these words say about the poet?
Q5 … Why was Philip chosen?

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

the brook speaks
musical terms introduced (sharps and trebles) … related to the brook … a double meaning … the close quick syllables emulate the brook

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.

Q6 … why is fret better than say, erode?

F and W alliteration
fallow = ploughed and harrowed left for a while to restore
foreland = an area of land bordering on another … the bank becomes a set for fairies
mallow – herbaceous plant with hairy stems … pink or purple flowers (fairy colours)

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,

repetition of here and there

grayling = edible fresh water fish, silver-grey

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

more alliteration

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.

The brook exhibits great life here with the multiple I statements … as though proud of its ability … and much S alliteration

Q7 … in what sense are the sunbeams netted?

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

shingly provides the sound of the water as well as defining the nature of the bars

Q8 … what is the difference between linger and loiter?

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.

Again the last three lines are a repetition from an earlier stanza.

Q9 … How important is the contrast between nature and humanity?

Q10 … Tennyson was greatly influenced by the death of a close friend … how could this be reflected in these words?

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Above annotation looks at the ‘music’ generated within this poem by using some of the poetic techniques listed below …

Rhyme (masculine) – repetition of the accented vowel sound … called masculine when only one syllable is involved (grow/flow)

Rhyme (feminine)… when two syllables are involved (frightful/spiteful)

Half rhyme – where only the one syllable of a two syllable words rhyme (shallows/swallows)

Rhythm – the syllables and the accent placed on each syllable so that a pattern occurs (Iambic = unaccented then accented … I SHOUT this To all AND sunDRY)

Alliteration – the repetition of initial consonant sounds (fright/fresh)

Consonance – the repetition of final consonant sounds (first/thirst)

Assonance – the repetition of vowel sounds (gravel/travel)

Word repetition – strings of words or sentences as in a refrain

Thought …

It has been said that all art is giving structure to two elements – repetition and variation … do you agree?

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