Rupert Brooke

(1887-1915 / Warwickshire / England)

A Letter to a Live Poet


Sir, since the last Elizabethan died,
Or, rather, that more Paradisal muse,
Blind with much light, passed to the light more glorious
Or deeper blindness, no man's hand, as thine,
Has, on the world's most noblest chord of song,
Struck certain magic strains. Ears satiate
With the clamorous, timorous whisperings of to-day,
Thrilled to perceive once more the spacious voice
And serene unterrance of old. We heard
-- With rapturous breath half-held, as a dreamer dreams
Who dares not know it dreaming, lest he wake --
The odorous, amorous style of poetry,
The melancholy knocking of those lines,
The long, low soughing of pentameters,
-- Or the sharp of rhyme as a bird's cry --
And the innumerable truant polysyllables
Multitudinously twittering like a bee.
Fulfilled our hearts were with the music then,
And all the evenings sighed it to the dawn,
And all the lovers heard it from all the trees.
All of the accents upon the all the norms!
-- And ah! the stress of the penultimate!
We never knew blank verse could have such feet.

Where is it now? Oh, more than ever, now
I sometimes think no poetry is read
Save where some sepultured C¾sura bled,
Royally incarnadining all the line.
Is the imperial iamb laid to rest,
And the young trochee, having done enough?
Ah! turn again! Sing so to us, who are sick
Of seeming-simple rhymes, bizarre emotions,
Decked in the simple verses of the day,
Infinite meaning in a little gloom,
Irregular thoughts in stanzas regular,
Modern despair in antique metres, myths
Incomprehensible at evening,
And symbols that mean nothing in the dawn.
The slow lines swell. The new style sighs. The Celt
Moans round with many voices.
God! to see
Gaunt anap¾sts stand up out of the verse,
Combative accents, stress where no stress should be,
Spondee on spondee, iamb on choriamb,
The thrill of all the tribrachs in the world,
And all the vowels rising to the E!
To hear the blessed mutter of those verbs,
Conjunctions passionate toward each other's arms,
And epithets like amaranthine lovers
Stretching luxuriously to the stars,
All prouder pronouns than the dawn, and all
The thunder of the trumpets of the noun!

Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2001
Edited: Thursday, May 10, 2001

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