Mike Canoy

Recent CS Grad from WWU

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CSCI 491: Dulce et Decorum est

A blog for Senior Project 1 about sonnets and trenches

Enlist Now Rupert Brooke Charles Sorley Edward Thomas Isaac Rosenberg Wilfred Owen Pro Patria Mori

Rupert Brooke: The Soldier

Saturday, April 16, 2016



Photograph of Brooke by Sherrill Schell. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Rupert Brooke was born August 2, 1887 to William, a schoolmaster, and Ruth Brooke in Rugby, Warwickshire. [1] Brooke's writing of renaissance theater won him a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge where he was a member of the Cambridge Apostles [2] , an intellectual society, and was president of the Cambridge University Fabian Society [3] , a liberal political voice within the university. At Cambridge, Brooke befriended a number of future Bloomsbury [4] members, a group of intellectuals working around Bloomsbury, London.

Besides being known for his writing, Brooke also was admired for his looks. William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, describe him as the "handsomest man in England," and Virginia Wolf, writer and Bloomsbury member, boasted about skinny dipping with Brooke. [5] In 1912, Brooke had a mental breakdown from the end of his relationship with Katherine Laird Cox caused by jealousy. After rehabilitation in Germany, Brooke would travel to the United States and Canada, writing back to the Westminster Gazette and breaking more hearts. His writing gained the attention of the First Lord of the Admiral, Winston Churchill, and was commissioned into the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Sub-Lieutenant. [6]

Brooke's poems in the navy often have an idealistic depiction of war, like The Dead [7] and The Soldier [8] . In The Soldier, Brooke glorifies his potential death for his country. That his body, and the land it becomes, belongs to England and makes 'rich earth' 'richer' due to his experienced English air, water, and sun. Though, it's interesting to think of the line as "blest by sons of home," as Brooke had lots of admiration from friends, colleagues, and superiors. He goes on to say his heart has no evil since England gave him positive thoughts, and he returned positive thoughts. That England would continue to be a peaceful, gentle heaven of pleasant sights, sounds, and people. All this, to describe death during wartime. Brooke speaks of laughter, flowers, gentleness, and the sun in relation to death and war, in a what would be titled The Soldier. The Soldier shows some very Victorian themes, like the romantic ideals of war and enthusiastic patriotism. Ideas that would clash with gruesome horrors of the Great War and following pessimism for the future. Though, for as unrealistic a depiction of death in war Brooke describes, his own death would seem to be as peaceful and ideal as what he wrote in his poem.

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 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 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.

Brooke died at 4:46 pm on April 23, 1915 of Sepsis from an infected mosquito bite while with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. He was buried at 11 pm in an olive grove on the Greek island of Skyros. Musician, friend, and fellow shipmate, William Denis Browne chose the site and wrote: [9]

...I sat with Rupert. At 4 o’clock he became weaker, and at 4.46 he died, with the sun shining all round his cabin, and the cool sea-breeze blowing through the door and the shaded windows. No one could have wished for a quieter or a calmer end than in that lovely bay, shielded by the mountains and fragrant with sage and thyme.

Browne would be killed in action on June 4, 1915 during the Gallipoli Campaign.