I am finding the following lines from Tennyson's Idylls of the King rather perplexing (full text here):

A thousand pips eat up your sparrow-hawk!
Tits, wrens, and all wing'd nothings peck him dead!
Ye think the rustic cackle of your bourg
The murmur of the world. What is it to me?

First, what is a "pip"? I cannot find an appropriate definition anywhere, although I assume it is a small bird of some kind.

Second, is meant by "Ye think the rustic cackle of your bourg / The murmur of the world." This seems to be an incomplete sentence. Does it mean "Ye [wrongly] think [so highly of] the rustic cackle ...?"

  • 2
    See the definition of pip that relates to birds. It reflects disease, leading to little scab-like bits on the tongue and throat.
    – Xanne
    Jun 18, 2022 at 23:39
  • 4
    Second = “You think that the rustic cackle of your town market (the bourg) is the murmur (the sound) of the world.” (You think you’re more important and central than you are. Why should I care?)
    – Xanne
    Jun 18, 2022 at 23:43
  • It's arguably more a question for literature.stackexchange.com as it's about a whole passage rather than a single word or usage. Certainly you're only supposed to ask about one thing at a time here.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 19, 2022 at 11:55
  • See continued discussion here: literature.stackexchange.com/questions/22700/…
    – Doubt
    Jul 17, 2022 at 1:12

1 Answer 1


The verb "think" is followed by the direct object "the rustic cackle of your bourg" and the object complement "the murmur of the world". The structure is similar to:

I consider him a genius.

As Xanne notes in a comment, the sentence means:

You think that the rustic cackle of your bourg is the murmur of the world.

  • I see. This explains why there is not a comma after "bourg". But any suggestion on what is meant by "the murmur of the world"?
    – Doubt
    Jun 19, 2022 at 5:18
  • @Doubt The sound of the world itself, something profound. If this were a straight line of prose it would read, "Ye think the rustic cackle of your bourg is the murmur of the world." In the poem the sentence breaks between two closely related words, an example of enjambment.
    – Zan700
    Jun 19, 2022 at 7:01
  • @Doubt From the dictionary: "a low indistinct but often continuous sound". It's being used here figuratively. If you want analysis, then that would be more appropriate for writing.stackexchange.com. Jun 19, 2022 at 14:24

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