Poems You Should Know: ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke

The transition from one artistic era to another seldom happens swiftly, but there is one notable exception: the abrupt and sweeping changes which took place in every field of European art during and immediately after World War One.

Written in 1914, ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) is a sonnet which reflects the very end of the Victorian era, with its smug nationalism and unswerving sense of loyalty and duty. Brooke himself would not live to see the transition to Modernism; he died in 1915 on his way to serve at Gallipoli.

If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever 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, blessed by the 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.

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3 thoughts on “Poems You Should Know: ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke

    1. Oh wow, I loved the later poem, and your post.

      Two of my great-grandfathers serves at Gallipoli, and the on the Somme. It messed one of the up psychologically for life and probably didn’t do the other any favours either, so like most Kiwis anything about Gallipoli resonates deeply with me.

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      1. Thanks for the kind word back. The singer that introduced me to Eric Bogle’s song and therefore to the story of the Gallipoli campaign was Canadian, and may have shared some old Commonwealth solidarity (or perhaps she just knew the song carried an emotional wallop in performance).

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