April is Poetry Month – Day 10

Byron’s Pool … where Lord Byron, Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf and Ludwig Wittgenstein went swimming (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

 

When we were studying World War I earlier this year, we spent some time reading poems by the various “War Poets”.  One of these poets was Rupert Brooke, who wrote several poems about the war.  He died at Gallipoli in 1915 of blood poisoning.  This poem is the fifth in a series of five sonnets that Brooke wrote in 1914.

V. The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust conceal’d;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air.
Wash’d by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

–Rupert Brooke

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2 thoughts on “April is Poetry Month – Day 10

  1. So beautiful. I’ve read this one before but didn’t know the context. It reminds me of a passage in Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse. One of the chieftans who fights with Alfred is a Roman and he has a similar sentiment. I wonder if Brooke got his idea from Chesterton, or it’s just something common to man.

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  2. Interesting question. Chesterton wrote his only a few years earlier so it may have been influential. I’ve read that many of the young officers I’m WWI, especially those from Oxford and Cambridge, were very idealistic and poetic when the war first started, which makes me think it was a mindset. Perhaps from all of their reading of the classics. Wasn’t there a similar romanticizing of war at the start of the Civil War in our country?

    However, I do love his image of the little corner of England being a part of wherever he is buried.

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