The brook starts out from the dwelling place of birds such as the coot (a water bird) and the hern (archaic word for heron). It makes a sudden rush as it flows out. The presence of sunlight causes the brook’s water to sparkle as it flows among the fern. It then continues its journey by flowing down a valley. While doing so, the sound of the flowing brook resembles that of people quarrelling. Hence the phrase, ‘bicker down a valley’.
The brook flows down along hills. Sometimes, it also glides between long and narrow hill ranges, called ridges. Thorpes refer to small villages or hamlets. Between two small towns, the brook passes several thorpes and a large number of bridges. The numbers used in this line such as ‘thirty’, ‘twenty’, ‘half a hundred’ should not be taken in the literal sense. These numbers are used to give the impression of ‘several’ or ‘many’ and to maintain the rhythm of the poem.