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First Line: Little brook without a name, that hast been my companion for so many years
Last Line: And bear away on thy bosom, and scatter them likewise.
Subject(s): Brooks; Love; Nature; Spring; Streams; Creeks

LITTLE brook without a name, that hast been my companion so many years;
Hardly more than a yard wide, yet scampering down through the fields, so
bright so pure, from the moorland a mile away;—
The willows hang over thee, and the alders and hazels; and the oak and the
ash dip their feet in thy waves;
And on thy sunny banks in Spring the first primroses peep, and celandines,
and the wild hyacinths lavish fragrance on the breeze—
Little brook, so simple so unassuming—and yet how many things love

Here where I have my nest,
[And the white-throat through the day and through the long night sits
patient on her brood among the grasses,]
Lo! Sun and Moon look down and glass themselves in thy waters,
[In the faithful watchful eyes of the bird they lovingly glass themselves;]

And the wren creeps like a mouse from twig to twig, and utters her thin
sweet note; and the willow-warbler chimes his endless cadence of gratitude; and
the night-jar sweeps silently by in the dusk, and the pheasant at midday comes
down from the wood to drink;
And the trout balances itself hour-long against the stream, watching for
its prey; or retires under a stone to rest;
And the water-rats nibble off the willow leaves and carry them below the
wave to their nests—or sit on a dry stone to trim their whiskers; Jesus
Christ) upon the flood, paddling quickly over the surface with its half-webbed
And the may-fly practises for the millionth time the miracle of the
resurrection, floating up an ungainly grub from the mud below, and in an
instant, in the twinkling of an eye (even from the jaws of the baffled trout)
emerging, an aerial fairy with pearl-green wings;
And the caddis-fly from its quaint disguise likewise emerges;
And the bee, as ever, hums, and the butterfly floats, and the little winged
beauty with shining mail of crimson and blue—the ruby-tail—searches in
and out of every crevice and chink for a suitable place for her eggs;
And the early daffodil and narcissus from the garden stray forward to peer
into thy mirror; and the wild garlic in the shade, and in the sun the king-cups,
fringe thy margin;
And the pick-eared earth-people, the rabbits, in the still-ness of early
morning play beside thee undisturbed, while the level sunbeams yet grope through
the dewy grass;
And the land-rail cranes its neck, to peer and peep from its cover;
And the weasel canters by on its quest, and the loose-jointed fox returning
from a foray;
And the squirrel on a tree-root—its tail stretched far
behind—leans forward to kiss thee,
Little brook,
For so many things love thee.
Say, what indeed art Thou—that hast been my companion now these twenty
Thou, with thy gracious retinue of summer, and thy fringes and lace-work of
frost in winter, and icy tassels bobbing in the stream;
And sound of human voices from thy bosom all the day, and mystic song at
night beneath the stars—
What art Thou, say!
While I have sat here, lo! thou hast scampered away, little brook, with all
thy lace-work and tassels,
Three hundred and fifty thousand miles;
So quiet, so soft—and no one knew what a traveller thou wert;
Three hundred and fifty thousand miles in these few years, and so thou hast
flowed for centuries;
And all the birds and fish and little quadrupeds have gone with thee, and
herbs and flowers;
Yet I sit here and prate as though I knew all about thee—
And the country-folk too, who reckon thou camest to turn the Mill—they
think they know all about thee.

But now I see how, soft-footed, thou passet by on a secret quest,
Cantering quietly down through the grasses,
And gatherest even from all wide earth and heaven thy waters
together—to lave these turfy banks and the roots of the primroses;
I see how thou sheddest refreshment and life on thousands of
creatures—who ask no questions;
Nor disdainest even to give the old millwheel a turn as thou goest, or
bring me a tiny thought or two from thy store in cloudland,
Little brook, so strange, so mystical,
That all things love—though they know not what thy Name is.
I see where thou passest graciously by, and hastenest seaward,
Scattering once more thy waters to earth and heaven;
And I pray thee take again these thoughts thou hast brought me,
And bear away on thy bosom, and scatter them likewise.

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