Sunday, 27 January 2019

Pocket Poets: Rupert Brooke


Pocket Poets: Rupert Brooke
Poems originally written between 1908 and 1914. This collection published by Vista Books in 1960.

My 1900s read for my 2018-19 Decade Challenge, my 15th Classics Club read, one more step up Mount TBR and P for my 2019 Alphabet Soup Challenge.

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a book exchange (I think)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A collection of twenty-nine poems and sonnets composed by the acclaimed First World War poet Rupert Brooke. Includes his most famous poem, The Soldier, which was first published in The Times in 1914: ("If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a foreign field That is forever England.")

I really don't like Brooke's most famous poem, The Soldier. It's one that seemingly gets recited whenever English people want to glorify our war history so I've come to associate it with jingoistic nationalism and pointless death. I don't know whether Brooke actually wrote it to encourage young men to sign up and fight in the First World War, but my attitude towards this one poem has always put me off reading anything else he wrote. Recently however I discovered that Brooke was associated with the Bloomsbury Group and a friend to Virginia Woolf - whose writing I do like very much. When I saw this slim vintage volume of his 'best' poems, I thought maybe it was time to give Brooke a second chance.

Based on this collection, I can say that Brooke was obsessed with Death and Love, in that order, and was rather a melodramatic soul! The timing of his poetry together with historical hindsight makes several of his poems especially poignant. The sonnet which begins "Oh! Death will find me, Long before I tire" and the poem Dust are both absolutely beautiful in their own right, and are given an extra edge by knowing that their author will indeed have died - of a tiny mosquito bite - just six years later. Brooke's work is very English and English in a way that bears no relation to the country I know. Instead this is a land of "honey for tea" and Tennyson at Cambridge. I couldn't relate to much of Brooke's hankering for that kind of life, but longing for home and his desolation after heart-break are universal. And I liked seeing the world through the eyes of fish!

Etsy Find!
by The Vintage Coop UK in
Sevenoaks, England

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop


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Books by Rupert Brooke / Poetry / Books from England

10 comments:

  1. I've never really been one to read books of poems.

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    1. I enjoy quite a lot of modern poetry, but wasn't sure I would be able to appreciate any of these older poems - but I did

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  2. It's not my usual genre but it looks like you enjoyed it.

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    1. Yes, I was pleased by how many of Brooke's poems I could understand and enjoy :-)

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  3. I am familiar with the Soldier, so this was neat seeing the complete works.

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    1. We must have read other Brooke poems at school because I remember studying WW1 poets, but I wasn't familiar with any other than The Soldier. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed some of the others

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  4. I'm actually not familiar with too many poems, I never really sat down to read any. This does look interesting though.

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    1. I go through phases of reading quite a bit of poetry, then won't feel like picking up a collection for ages. This one was surprisingly appealing :-)

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  5. Death and love... two themes I really love reading about in books and also in my poems. And as I am always looking out for poetry collections I have noted this one down! I just don't think I will like The Soldier either :P

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    1. The poem The Soldier is very much of its time and isn't bad poetry per se, but I can't see past its connotations which is a shame

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