Monday, April 4, 2016

Matrilineal Monday: ‘For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.’


Michael & Mary Josephine (Mullane) Coyle c 1895



This was a favorite poem of my great grandmother, Mary Josephine (Mullane) Coyle, 1867 – 1927. Her youngest daughter, Kathleen G. Coyle, told me her mother would recite the poem to her children. 

I like the soothing rhythm of the poem, the image of the brook flowing past the birds [coot and hern], the valley, the town and into the river. It clatters over the stones, under bridges and past fields as men go their own way. I like the simple power of this little brook, ‘For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.’

It would have been nice to sit in my great grandmother’s kitchen, share a cup of tea and discuss this poem.


The Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA 2012


The Brook
By Alfred Lord Tennyson

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.

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, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.

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 forever.


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4 comments:

  1. A beautiful poem and a priceless photograph. Enjoyed both.

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  2. I've never heard this poem before, but it is very soothing. Don't you wish you knew why she chose that poem to recite to her children and what it meant to her?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Michelle. I'd love to talk to her & learn a great many things.

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