Thursday, January 19, 2012

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Rupert Chawner Brooke was an English poet whose career was cut short due to a tragic event while serving for his country during World War I. Rupert Brooke was a much loved English poet whose death spoke volumes to many and touched many people. His poetry was touching and beautiful and could be related to by many people. His life was short but had many events in that short time.


Rupert Brooke was born at Rugby, Warwickshire on August , 1887. His father’s name was William Brooke and was an assistant master at the school in Rugby. Rupert’s mother’s name was Mary Ruth Cotterill. Rupert was the second of three sons. Dick and Alfred were the names of his other two brothers (Keynes 1). Rupert attended school in Rugby where his father was assistant master, and in 105 won a prize for a poem called The Bastille” (Lavington 161). Brooke was a very athletic kid growing up and played both cricket and football for the school (Lavington 161). He soon found out that these games were not for him and so he took up the game of tennis and became very good at it. He also took a great interest in swimming. When he wasn’t doing athletics he was always at a Russian ballet, which was another joy of his.


In 106 he went up to Kings College, Cambridge, and became friends with G.E. Moore, Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry, and Leonard Fry (kirjasto). While at Cambridge, he was interested in acting and was the Secretary and President of the University Fabian Society. Later on in his years at King’s College he went through a phase of vegetarianism which didn’t last very long but was experimented with (Lavington 161).


In 110 Rupert’s father died suddenly and Brooke for a short time was deputy housemaster in Rugby. His mother then became his only influence, even though she had already been a great influence on him and his poetry. This strong influence helped him in his writings and his life. Brooke’s first book, Poems, was published in 111, which would not be his last.


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Although Rupert was gifted with his good looks and gifted writing skills he too had women troubles. Between 108 and 11 he had fallen in love with three women. Their names were Noel Olivier, who was the youngest daughter of the governor of Jamaica, Ka Cox, who was next after him as the President of the Fabian Society, and Cathleen Nesbitt who was an Irish actress (Keynes 6). During the year of 111 Rupert was engaged with Noel Olivier but this is when he had fallen in love with Ka Cox. Rupert followed his new love and traveled to Lulworth to join Ka Cox and her friends in a reading party. People who were among them at that time were Lytton and James Strachey, Maynard Keynes, and Henry Lamb (kirjasto). Lamb was married at the time but also had a love for Ka Cox. Finally Rupert’s heart was broken when Ka told him that she was in love with Lamb and not him. This heartbreak can show through in his poetry. Although it hasn’t been proven it is said that Ka Cox had his child. Rupert kept in close contact with all three women through letters written as he traveled. He was unable to make any of the three relationships work and after the third failed he left England to travel.


Rupert’s heart break along with his overwork for his Fellowship for King’s wore him down and in January of 11 he was told by a specialist to get some rest, gave him a special diet, and recommended getting sunshine. These recommendations led him to go with his mother to Cannes (kirjasto). This trip lasted for a short time and soon he was back to try and regain the love of Ka Cox. These events led him to lose contact with his friends of the Bloomsbury Group because of his conflicts with Lytton Strachey and the love for Ka Cox.


He had been in Munich, Berlin, and in Italy, and in May 11, he left England again for a year to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and to just wander around and think about his life. He was awarded his Fellowship at King’s but decided not to take it up right away. While on this wandering trip he passed through the United States and Canada on his way to the South Seas. While traveling in the United States and Canada he wrote essays about his impressions of the new world which were printed in the Westminister Gazette which were received with humor by those who read them (Keynes 648). In one of his travel papers he described the city of Quebec as having the radiance and repose of an immortal (Lavington 16). After traveling through the states and Canada Brooke settled down in Tahiti at Mataia. This new scene bought forth some of his best poetry. In Tahiti Brooke had lived with a Tahitian, Taatamata. Brooke left Tahiti on April 5, 114 to return to England and later on in the year of 114 Taatamata had a daughter who is said to have been the daughter of Rupert Brooke (kirjasto).


Then came World War I. Well, if Armageddons on, he said, I suppose one should be there (Lavington 16). He obtained a commission in the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division in September and was ordered on the expedition to Antwerp. Here he had his first experience of war, lying for some days in trenches having to deal with the realities of war, waiting in silence as enemy shells flew overhead (Keynes 56).


After his mission to Antwerp, Rupert joined the Dardenelles expedition. Brooke did not see any action on this expedition. He never reached the Dardanelles. On Saturday April 10, 115 Brooke’s troopship left for Lemnos. Brooke and the men aboard his ship were sent to Tris Boukes Bay, which was off the south west of Skyros. They reached their destination Saturday, April 17. Tuesday, April 0 is when Brooke began to get seriously ill, noticing a swelling in his lip and a mosquito bite he had received earlier. These symptoms were noticed as blood poisoning and he was soon moved to a French hospital ship where he later died of blood poisoning on Friday, April , which was the day of St. Michael and Saint George (kirjasto). He was buried at night, by torch light, in an olive grove on the island of Skyros (Holmes 5). For such a profound poet his burial isn’t anything impressive. On his grave is just a wooden cross with the date of his birth and the date of his death. A few days later the news of his death was published in the Times with the following appreciation W. S. C. writes


Rupert Brooke is dead. A telegram from the Admiral at Lemnos tells us that this life has closed at the moment when it seemed to have reached its springtime. A voice had become audible, a note had been struck, more true, more thrilling, more able to do justice to the nobility of our youth in arms engaged in this present war, than any other -- more able to express their thoughts of self surrender, and with a power to carry comfort to those who watch them so intently from afar. The voice has been swiftly stilled. Only the echoes and the memory remain; but they will linger.


During the last few months of his life, months of preparation in gallant comradeship and open air, the poet soldier told with all the simple force of genius the sorrow of youth about to die, and the sure, triumphant consolations of a sincere and valiant spirit. He expected to die; he was willing to die for the dear England whose beauty and majesty he knew; and he advanced toward the brink in perfect serenity, with absolute conviction of the rightness of his countrys cause and a heart devoid of hate for fellowmen.


The thoughts to which he gave expression in the very few incomparable war sonnets which he has left behind will be shared by many thousands of young men moving resolutely and blithely forward into this, the hardest, the cruelest, and the least rewarded of all the wars that men have fought. They are a whole history and revelation of Rupert Brooke himself. Joyous, fearless, versatile, deeply instructed, with classic symmetry of mind and body, ruled by high, undoubting purpose, he was all that one would wish Englands noblest sons to be in days when no sacrifice but the most precious is acceptable, and the most precious is that which is most freely proffered (Lavington 165).


During the war Rupert had written many poems that were never published while he was alive. After his death these war sonnets were published and his most famous poem The Soldier was published along with these. Death is supposed to be a bad thing in most cases but luckily for poetry lovers of all ages the death of Rupert Brooke brought us some of his most famous work. Rupert Brooke’s poetry can be related to by all people because of the subject manner in which he writes about. Anyone who has ever had their heartbroken, experienced a death in their family, or visited a beautiful place that can’t be explained by language can related to his poetry. Even after his death, the poetry of Rupert Brooke lives on through everyone who had had the joy of reading it.


Analysis on next page


The poetry of Rupert Brooke is very simplistic and yet it is very complicated at the same time. For many of his poems reading them is not the only way you can tell what he is meaning behind his words, you must understand events that occurred in his life to understand the meaning behind his poetry. His artistic style is very genuine and words that he chooses fit perfectly because he was a master of writing and artistic view.


Rupert Brooke’s love for life, friends, and family show up in his writings in many different forms, from death of someone close to his love of his different women friends. His charismatic and carefree views of life and the world also show up a great deal in his poetry and he shared his many different views of relationships with the many people who have read his poetry.


In his poem, Day That I Have Loved, he starts off the poem with the lines “Tenderly, day that I have loved, I close your eyes, and smooth your quiet brow, and fold your thin dead hands. The grey veils of the half-light deepen; colour dies. I bear you, a light burden, to the shrouded sands” (Felleman 400). Just this opening sequence of words can be interpreted in many different ways. By reading the title of the poem you might think that this is a poem about an event that occurred over a day that would make him happy. That’s the impression gotten from the title until you read the opening stanza, which refers to thin dead hands. This is a sign of a death because of the dead hands and this poem turns into a contradiction of the title because death is hard to embrace and love so how could it be a day that can be loved. As the poem continues there is a reason for his loving the day. The day gives him a reason to reflect on the memories and times that were shared by him and the person who has died. This was one of his earlier poems and started off his style of writing, which finds the positive in every event.


Brooke’s poetry was that of a young man who had a thought or an opinion on everything. He uses elaborate sequences of words to describe the point he wants to get across in his work and very descriptive sentences to give the reader an understanding of what is being said and to let the reader be taken to where he is describing or to put the reader in his shoes based on what the poem is about.


All of Brooke’s poems are found in the book The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke. In this book his poems are separated by date of when they were written and subjects they were written about. The first chunk is 105 � 108, the second chunk is 108 � 111, the third chunk is 114, which was the year he was in the war, and these were his war sonnets, and finally there are the poems written about the South Seas. The reason for this is because each poem in each chunk of years has to do with different events and different occurrences in his life. In 105 � 108 he had just started attending college and making friends and enjoying the social aspects of life. He was just starting to experience life and wanted to get that down on paper and in poetic verse, which he enjoyed very much. In the years of 108 � 111 he had experienced love and heart break and so this was reflected in his poetry. His experiences with Ka Cox and the Bloomsbury Group affected his life and so affected his poetry. During his experience in the war in 114 he wrote about war as a reference to the people who weren’t experiencing it first hand. Also his war sonnets were a symbol to all as to what England was a meant to his patriotic integrity. His poems about the South Seas were his way of describing the place in which he loved and found beautiful. So his experiences throughout life show greatly in his poetry and changed with his growing as a man.


In the poem entitled, In Examination, the lines “In through the window my Lord the Sun! And my eyes were dazzled and drunk with the misty gold, the golden glory that drowned and crowned me eddied and swayed through the room…” (Brooke 7) are placed at the beginning of the poem to set the tone for what his thoughts were about in writing this poem. Just from looking at these line you might think it is about the sun itself. But if you read the surrounding words and thoughts he gives this poem is about his love for someone and how he sees them each and everyday. While he was writing this poem his love for a woman may have started to grow and he wanted to put in writing how she made him feel. “In through my window my Lord the Sun” is another way of saying how she appears to him whenever he sees her around. When talking about his eyes being dazzled and drunk with the misty gold, the interpretation is from his looking into the sun and being blinded by its brightness, which in this case the sun is his love. The love for a woman is just one interpretation. At the time this poem was written he was attending King’s College. As the title states In Examination, examination is a word associated with tests and school. With the thought of school when reading this poem his talking about the sun and how it blinds you has to do with the first impression of college. Walking into the big sun that is college and being overwhelmed even “blinded” by the excitement of being on your own and attending can be blinding. This is where the sun and drunken eyes can come from.


Many of Brooke’s poems can be interpreted in the same way as In Examination, where the first time you read it you have an idea of what is meant by the words but after examining the poem and understanding what is going on in his life at the time you can come up with other explanations as to what he means by his words. After reading over his poetry a few times and thinking about other factors that may be at hand you can get a good sense of the hidden meanings behind his words. That was Brooke’s style of writing. For the poetry lover who just loved to read and enjoy what was written and given to them, those type of poetry lovers could enjoy his work because the words flow so well and are so beautiful. His work also appealed to the poetry lover who was interested in trying to figure out what is actually meant behind the words that are given to them. His poetry had many different meanings that poetry lovers of this type could try to find out. This is why he appealed to such a large audience.


The years of 108 � 111 brought from Rupert Brooke a side of his poetry that dealt more with love as he had grown and experienced being in love on a few occasions. In the poem, Sonnet, he states “Love is flung Lucifer-like from Heaven to Hell” (Brooke 48). This is the time he had gone through his love triangle between him, Ka Cox, and Henry Lamb. At the time of writing this poem he was not thinking to highly on love because he had taken a chance with his heart and got it broken so in turn he wrote about his misfortunes and his new outlook on love. This poem discusses how in order to love you must lay something on the line which would be referring to your heart. After being broken times before his view point is that love is not for him because he is tired of laying his heart on the line and not getting anything in return for it. He declares in this poem that he would be better off without love and that he can’t take anymore loneliness in his heart in the line “For love of Love, or from heart’s loneliness” (Brooke 48). At the end of this poem he finally declares his great distaste for love by saying “Pleasure’s not theirs, nor pain. They doubt, and sigh, and do not love at all. Of these am I.” After reading over the poem again I noticed something a little more behind his words. He writes about how bad love is and how he is one who does not love it at all, but the ones who do not love it are not happy because they doubt and sigh. He doesn’t like to love because of his heart breaks, but he knows the only true way to be happy is to love and so he wants to love again but can’t get the courage to love again.


These times brought forth some of his best works when dealing with him as a person. They showed that the man deemed “the most handsome man in England” had trouble with love also. The poems that came from him during these times were written out of pure emotion and social hardships along with his coping with the death of his father, which made it easier for the reader to relate to what he was saying with his poetic verse because many have experienced the same hardships.


In his poem, Success, many of the hardships spoken of are released in this piece of writing. It starts out “I think if you had loved me when I wanted” (Brooke 4), giving the impression of his hardships with love, but as you read on it ends with “One last shame’s spared me, one black word’s unspoken; and I’m alone; and you have not awoken” (Brooke 4). This poem contains both his love life and his coping of the death of his dad. Both meanings of this poem are concealed. As you read this poem it seems as though he is describing the woman he loves by giving detail of facial features and talking about loving this person discussed. The love aspect of this poem is the one that is easily recognized because of the wording and that the person he speaks of not awakening may be her love for him not awakening. In the deeper sense this poem deals with the death of his father, which was around the time of this poem. The description of his face is the remembrance of what his father looked like before the death and the person not awoken is the dead body of his father lying in front of him breathless. As he discusses Earth’s lordliest wild limbs tamed he is referring to his father and the personality of his father as being wild in his livelier state and taming him because of his untimely death as a person.


Rupert Brooke wasn’t known as a poet of death sonnets but he did write about death when it was a time in his life when death was what was on his mind. Especially during World War I when he was enrolled and had to cope everyday with the reality that he may die at any moment as enemy shells flew overhead. The war was a scary time for him but it brought about his finest poetry and his most remembered poems that have a place in poetry history even today.


In the poem Peace, Brooke talks of man and how things are done in time of war. Brooke speaks of the reactions of man and how to restore peace. It seems the poem is about how war shouldn’t have to be the way to decide things but upon further reading it seems more in the way of how war is the only way to bring total peace. He states a line in this poem, which says “And the worst friend and enemy is but Death” (Brooke 107). This line is a very powerful line. Death is a friend in the sense of war. Even though to die for a cause seems to be a bad reason to die, in Brooke’s eyes death seemed like a good idea if it was the enemies death because that would be the only way him and his country could possibly win the war. Death is a worst enemy also because death to a person is the final destination. Everyone fears death and it is a great motivation factor in staying alive for the war. In Brooke’s eyes death to him would mean the end of his writing and thus would end his being able to put his words into poems and would end his life and what he was capable of.


Brooke’s most famous poem that he wrote during the war was titled The Soldier. A few lines from the poem state, “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 111). This poem was one of the most inspiring poems to come from the war because of its meanings behind what was written. Brooke starts off by saying if he should die. This poem can relate to him as himself or to all soldier’s fighting for England with him during the war. He states if he were to die then his body and the bodies of any soldier would be buried in the country they gave their life to and would just help add to England’s soil and make it an even better country than he thought it to be at the present time. He states that England is their home and that if he didn’t love England than he would have no business being their risking his life and his career. He states this by saying, “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 111). This is describing the beautiful country from which he was born and is fighting for the freedom of.


Brooke found himself in the South Seas where he was inspired by the beauty of his surroundings and a new love that he had found. He wrote many poems about his new love in Tahiti and these poems written during this time gained the love aspect of how love is beautiful as he started to enjoy his new romance. In the poem Retrospect, Brooke says, “And thoughts of you, I do remember, were green leaves in a darkened chamber, were dark clouds in a moonless sky, love, in you, went passing by” (Brooke 118). Brooke mentions love for his new lover many times in this poem and with the events of having a new lover he has a new subject and breed of writing to his poetry. Where once love was something he wanted but was never able to have he has found that someone and is happy with her which reflects in the poems written at this time.


Brooke writes in the poem, Heaven, “Fish ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear, each secret fishy hope or fear. Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond; but is there anything Beyond” (Brooke 1). This poem mentions fish and asks the question if there is a life beyond for fish or a heaven for fish and describes what it would be like. This however is not the intended meaning behind this poem. His reasoning for this poem would be what he thinks heaven would be for humans and what he thinks there is once you have passes on to the other side. When he mentions, “Fat caterpillars drift around, and Paradisal grubs are found; unfading moths, immortal flies, and the worm that never dies. And in that Heaven of all their wish, there shall be no more land, say fish” (Brooke 14). All these items mentioned are what would be perfect for fish when in reality what is meant is replaced by items that he would find perfect. Worms and the other items that are food for fish are replaced with his favorite items. Instead of a land with all water he would want heaven to be like the South Seas since that was his favorite place to visit and is to him the perfect place and is heaven. In a broader sense the food items for him might be if he could choose what heaven was to be like, items that his dad enjoyed. He was writing from the sense that if heaven were to be real and his dad were up there then he would want his dad to be in a perfect place because of all that he gave him during his time on Earth. This poem was written four years after the death of his father and so the South Seas may have sparked a remembrance of his father in some way to explain how that poem had to do with his dad.


In a final sense Rupert Brooke was a very good poet and is still known today as a very good poet. His hardships are understandable and also very relatable which is why I enjoy his poetry. He writes from his heart and from whatever at the time happens to spark an interest in him or inspires him. As he aged his poetry evolved from more childish problems to problems dealt with as an adult. His poetic verse is very intellectual and possibly has many meanings to it. I am not able to prove that everyone of his poems had a deeper meaning than what seemed to be there on the paper but by knowing events that occurred in his life I am able to see how his poetry could swing in the way of deeper meanings dealing with those events. The deeper you go into his poetry the more you find that he is a very complicated person and also a very emotional person.





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