Rupert Brooke

(1887-1915 / Warwickshire / England)

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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 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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • * Sunprincess * (6/18/2014 12:10:00 PM)

    .............England is a great land....and one of my dreams is to visit there someday.....enjoyed this wonderful poem.... (Report) Reply

  • Stephen W (4/12/2014 7:22:00 PM)

    Not as good as the previous one, The Dead II. Though beautifully written, it is somewhat vain and affected. It wasn't an English war, anyway. (Report) Reply

  • Wilson Hay Kinley (4/6/2013 2:26:00 PM)

    a big fat 10 for this!
    the line
    There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed
    gets me ever time: D [3 (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/20/2012 9:21:00 AM)

    The idea that a dead soldier: Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given... is a bit fanciful to say the least. From my experience of military life I should prefer if most of the soldiers I met kept their thoughts to themselves! A famous poem, but its sentimentality has not worn well seen through the carnage that followed. And Brooke's privileged life was by no means the life that most men and women had whom England bore. I do not think they would have written like this. (Report) Reply

  • Stevie Taite (9/20/2012 9:20:00 AM)

    Let's remember the soldier before the atrosity of war took away his inocence and his life! (Report) Reply

  • Udiah Witness to YAH (9/20/2012 5:49:00 AM)

    This poem by Brooke unveils the mindset of the soldier sent to war in Europe. This was hoped to be the war to end all wars, but unfortunately we now know much better. He knew tyranny had to be defeated so all might enjoy the heaven he had experienced as a young child in England. We continue to fight today for many of the same reasons. Mankind perhaps will never overcome his fleshly urges of power, greed, lust, and other evils, so wars shall continue until all can learn to live peacefully and settle their differences in a rational manner. And until we learn to protect individual rights, by allowing the people to have democratic republics instead of mob democracies, atrocities en masse will continue. (Report) Reply

  • Udiah Witness to YAH (9/20/2012 5:47:00 AM)

    This poem by Brooke unveils the mindset of the soldier sent to war in Europe. This was hoped to be the war to end all wars, but unfortunately we now know much better. He knew tyranny had to be defeated so all might enjoy the heaven he had experienced as a young child in England. We continue to fight today for many of the same reasons. Mankind perhaps will never overcome his fleshly urges of power, greed, lust, and other types of evil, so wars shall continue until all can learn to live peacefully and settle their differences in a rational manner. And until we learn to protect individual rights, by allowing the people to have democratic republics instead of mob democracies, atrocities en masse will continue. (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (9/20/2012 4:00:00 AM)

    The first half of this poem is just impeccable but im afraid to me it wained a bit in the latter..but thats just personal taste i think...to me the first 8 lines is all that i needed to read.... (Report) Reply

  • Daniel Martin (9/20/2011 7:14:00 AM)

    This is such a beautifully sad poem. To me, there are key ponits in each section.

    The first is the use of the work 'Gave', which hints at some sort of sacrificial giving of the English boys sent to war (or duped into signing up) . How right he was.

    The second is the statement 'A pulse in the eternal mind, no less'. This is a clear awareness that the events unfolding before him would never be forgotten - again... how right he was. (Report) Reply

  • Shadow Girl (5/13/2011 12:47:00 AM)

    We must read this in the context it is written - the only indication of war in this poem is - 'in a foreign field'. The writer was naive to the atrocities of war.... 'A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, '
    From a 21st century perspective we can read 'made aware' as being ironic as propaganda was used for obfuscation not revelation: it duped men into enlisting. (Report) Reply

  • Ian Fraser (10/19/2010 8:17:00 AM)

    This poem is the last of five sonnets on the subject of World War One, that are considered his chief legacy as a writer. Brooke has been strongly criticized for presenting an idealized view of war and death that was far from the brutal reality. It has to be remembered, however, that they were all written at the beginning of the war before the long years of suffering had begun to take their toll on people's sensibilities. Brooke's view of war as a patriotic duty and an uplifting even transcendent experience was by far the one most commonly held at the period and it is harsh to criticize him for it. Later writers such as Owen and Sassoon, for example, saw things a different way and theirs is the view which nowadays generally prevails. But just as we do not condemn Shakespeare for not describing the graphic details of death in war or Jane Austen for not writing about the conditions of beggars in her society, it is unfair to condemn Brooke. This is and will always remain one the great patriotic poems. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (9/20/2010 8:42:00 AM)

    A soldier's prescient will and heartfelt testament of his love for his homeland, written before his death in 1915 from septicemia on his way to the frontline. No citations for gallantry in action in his service folder, unlike his contemporaries who were poets and soldiers: Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sasson. Perhaps that accounts for the note of idealism in the sonnet. Brooke seems unfazed by the grim and bloody war and the horrors of the battlefields and the interminable trench war that wreaked havoc on the young men who went over the top to their deaths for King and country - 60,000 KIA at the Somme! (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (9/20/2010 8:11:00 AM)

    'Somewhere back the thoughts by England given' could have perhaps given a sense of peace to one who had died and one about to die sooner! (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (9/20/2010 4:33:00 AM)

    Rupert Brooke as the narrator is stating in the octave, that (if) he should die in a foreign land, then that corner of a foreign field where he would be buried, would forever after be a part of England. His body decaying into dust, which ‘England bore, shaped made aware, ’ would be the ‘richer dust concealed; ’ in that grave where he was buried.
    England had given him during his life, ‘her flowers to love, her ways to roam’ and having breathed ‘English air, ’ he remains even in dead, ever a body and part of England. He had been washed by English ‘rivers, blest by suns of home’.
    In the sestet the narrator concludes that from the somewhere, where he is buried, he gives back the thoughts England has given him. England’s “sights and sounds; dreams... laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.” A beautiful sonnet proclaiming pride in his English heritage. (Report) Reply

Read all 31 comments »

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