Rupert Brooke, English poet and WW1 soldier, had lofty dreams. He made efforts to make them real. He once wrote, “ I want to walk 1,000 miles, and write 1,000 plays, and sing 1,000 poems, and drink 1,000 pots of beer, and kiss 1,000 girls, and—oh, a million things. I go around corners nearly shivering with excitement.”
He could not contain his enthusiasm. He could not stop the feelings of excitement.
His writing style although youthful was simultaneously mature and elegant. The poem, the Soldier, is graceful and at the same time has the depth that men want and the romanticism that youth longs for. It is not shallow for me. And when I read the Soldier again and again, I recall the moments of my youth. Brooke wrote his poetry when England was entering the war. Years later the view was that all was bleak. He illuminated the world for a moment and then he was gone. When we read the words of the dead, for a moment they become alive.
He wrote his poetry at a time when the world was much different, when it seemed less complicated and the race to run off to this War was seen as something romantic rather than something eviscerating. But, the poets of this time would learn a truth. Sassoon, Brooke, Wilson all had an exuberant energy and the uncanny ability to write well. As an American that deeply loves his country, I can understand Brooke, and I think you will too.
The War Sonnets: V. The Soldier
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.
Brooke as we all well know perished from an insect bite on a ship in the Aegean Sea and was buried in an olive grove on the Greek island of Skyros. Brooke symbolized the tragic loss of talented youth during the War but he lived life on his terms.
Do you recall how you used to feel when you were young and didn’t let life get the best of you?
What is a quest? A quest is a journey towards a goal and it appears in the folklore of every culture.
Sir Galahad sought the Holy Grail.
Aeneas searched for a homeland.
Odysseus quests to come home to his wife.
Dorothy had to journey to the Wizard of Oz in order to get home.
Frodo Baggins had to destroy the ring in the book trilogy, the Lord of the Rings.
In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden quest for a sense of purpose or a raison de etre.
In the book Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, the character Charles Ryder, embarks on a quest to find God.
WHAT IS YOUR QUEST?
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