Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (1809-1892) was an English poet. He was the Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.
Tennyson wrote “The Brook” in 1886, just six years before his death. The poem is a ballad in which the speaker—the brook, or stream, itself—undertakes a long and winding journey across the countryside to join up with a large river. Underlying the journey of the little stream are darker, more poignant themes of death, human impermanence, and nature’s indifference to humankind, though the poem also emphasizes nature’s sheer beauty. The poem contains the popular refrain, ‘For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever,’. which captures both the fleetingness of human life and the constancy of nature.
The reference to Nilgiris in the poem comes at the 18th line of the opening stanza. The reference is to the ‘half-English Neilgherry ( as Nilgiris was spelt then) air’.
By 1886 Nilgiris and Ooty were well known is all parts of England and their salubrious climate were a recurrent theme in many of the writings of the day. T.B. Jervis who was the one of the earliest to write about Nilgiris said in 1834, ‘ Such a climate within the tropic was considered so great an anomaly that few would believe in its existence. But as the number of visitors ascending the hills in the hope of restoring their health and deranged constitution grew dramatically, Ooty’s air and water came to be regarded as the finest in the world.’
Though Tennyson never set foot in the Nilgiris he glorified its air as it somewhat resembled that of England.
Niligiri Documentation Centre