Rupert Brooke

October 4, 2006

rbrooke.jpg
(1887-1915)

British poet known for his idealistic poetry written during WWI
Friends with the Bloomsbury group of writers, some of whom admired his talent, while others were more impressed by his good looks: W.B. Yeats called him the “handsomest young man in England”
Belonged to literary group known as the Georgian Poets, and was the most important of the Dymock poets
Toured the United States, Canada and islands in the South Seas to write travel diaries: he may have fathered a daughter with a Tahitian woman
Struggled with his sexuality his entire life: wrote often about his attraction towards his own sex
Unable to feel either truly homosexual or heterosexual, Brooke was often unsatisfied with his romantic life
Entered the army as an officer, as befitted his social class, and took part in the Antwerp expedition in  1914: sailed with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
Died of septic pneumonia from an infected mosquito bite
Since Brooke’s death, the name Rupert has been used as a term of mockery for any young Army officer with a public school education

Quotations:

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 concealed; / 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, / Washed 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 give; / Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day; / And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, / In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

-The Soldier (in whole)

Contrasted with Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’
Parts were adapted for the contingency television address that would have been read by President Richard Nixon in the event the Apollo 11 astronauts became stranded on the moon
Brooke died within the year he wrote ‘The Soldier’
Generations of British school children would be taught the opening patriotic lines

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