RUPERT BROOKE (1887-1915)  was a promising English poet who died young in World War I.


However, Brooke's poetry with its patriotic mood and naive enthusiasm went out of fashion as the realities of warfare were fully understood.


The Soldier that you can find below was written while Brooke was on leave at Christmas, 1914; it was the final sonnet in a collection of five that he entitled "1914" - his reflections on the outbreak of war.




The day that youth had died,

There came to his grave-side,

In decent mourning, from the country's ends,

Those scatter'd friends

Who had lived the boon companions of his prime,

And laughed with him and sung with him and wasted,

In feast and wine and many-crown'd carouse,

The days and nights and dawnings of the time

When youth kept open house,

Nor left untasted

Aught of his high emprise and ventures dear,

No quest of his unshar'd -

All these, with loitering feet and sad head bar'd,

Followed their old friend's bier.

Folly went first,

With muffled bells and coxcomb still revers'd;

And after trod the bearers, hat in hand - --

Laughter, most hoarse, and Captain Pride with tanned

And martial face all grim, and fussy Joy,

Who had to catch a train, and Lust, poor, snivelling boy;

These bore the dear departed.

Behind them, broken-hearted,

Came Grief, so noisy a widow, that all said,

"Had he but wed

Her elder sister Sorrow, in her stead!"

And by her, trying to soothe her all the time,

The fatherless children, Colour, Tune, and Rhyme

(The sweet lad Rhyme), ran all-uncomprehending.

Then, at the way's sad ending,

Round the raw grave they stay'd.  Old Wisdom read,

In mumbling tone, the Service for the Dead.

There stood Romance,

The furrowing tears had mark'd her rouged cheek;

Poor old Conceit, his wonder unassuaged;

Dead Innocency's daughter, Ignorance;

And shabby, ill-dress'd Generosity;

And Argument, too full of woe to speak;

Passion, grown portly, something middle-aged;

And Friendship -- - not a minute older, she;

Impatience, ever taking out his watch;

Faith, who was deaf, and had to lean, to catch

Old Wisdom's endless drone.

Beauty was there,

Pale in her black; dry-eyed; she stood alone.

Poor maz'd Imagination; Fancy wild;

Ardour, the sunlight on his greying hair;

Contentment, who had known Youth as a child

And never seen him since. And Spring came too,

Dancing over the tombs, and brought him flowers - --

She did not stay for long.

And Truth, and Grace, and all the merry crew,

The laughing Winds and Rivers, and lithe Hours;

And Hope, the dewy-eyed; and sorrowing Song; - --

Yes, with much woe and mourning general,

At dead Youth's funeral,

Even these were met once more together, all,

Who erst the fair and living Youth did know;

All, except only Love. Love had died long ago.



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.


This poem has had two titles: “The Soldier” and “Nineteen-Fourteen: The Soldier”.



I came back late and tired last night

Into my little room,

To the long chair and the firelight

And comfortable gloom.

But as I entered softly in

I saw a woman there,

The line of neck and cheek and chin,

The darkness of her hair,

The form of one I did not know

Sitting in my chair.

stood a moment fierce and still,

Watching her neck and hair.

I made a step to her; and saw

That there was no one there.

It was some trick of the firelight

That made me see her there.

It was a chance of shade and light

And the cushion in the chair.

Oh, all you happy over the earth,

That night, how could I sleep?

I lay and watched the lonely gloom;

And watched the moonlight creep

From wall to basin, round the room,

All night I could not sleep.