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Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Melis Yaman (
Date: October 10, 2004 02:51PM

I need to know what the poem"Peace," written by Rupert Brooke is about. Can you help me?

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: lg (
Date: October 10, 2004 04:01PM

It's a rather idealistic view of the "would be" soldier toward battle. There is more info. here:

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Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: October 11, 2004 11:55AM

Not one of his best works, to my first reading.

Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary,
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
And all the little emptiness of love!

Oh! we, who have known shame, we have found release there,
Where there's no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
Naught broken save this body, lost but breath;
Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there
But only agony, and that has ending;
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.

Tough for me to scan, starting with the first line, where we are forced by meter to stress WITH His HOUR. Swimmers do not usually turn with a leaping motion, and the choice of 'cleanness' is odd. I got another stumble on the Leave the sick hearts line - I keep getting 6 beats instead of 5. Dirty songs and dreary makes me think a noun that dreary modifies is missing, a rhyme-driven inversion, as is cleanness leaping.

The rhyme scheme is also strange. Instead of abba abba cdc dcd (or the like), we get abab cdcd efg efg. And the sestet appears to me to continue the thoughts of the octave, not make the usual turn of the volta.

The meter of the sestet is even more unusual. I can only wonder why he chose release there/peace there - surely the 'there' words could have been lost without harming the thought?

Last, the poem seems to glorify war - very strange.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: October 12, 2004 04:12AM

The Solidier (If I should die think only this of me) also glorifies war - and I think I was told is one of Brooke's earliest poems - so, given the eccentricities of style etc you've pointed out, Hugh, isn't it likely that Peace is also an early effort - written before the realities of war and the conventions of poetry hit home?

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: RJAllen (193.114.111.---)
Date: October 12, 2004 05:21AM

All of Brooke's war sonnets are late- by his standards- work, written in 1914-15 after war began. His best poems [he was a fine comic poet] were all written before WWI. Brooke never fought: he died of blood poisoning brought on by a mosquito bite.
The version Hugh quotes is corrupt, in punctuation at least. The first line should read "Now god be thanked, who has matched us with his hour,...", which [except for the ellision of "who has" scans perfectly. He also misreads: "To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,/To a world" Here the "as" means "like". It is means "to turn glad[ly] from a world grown etc, like swimmers leaping into the cleanness of water", a traditional image of cleanness compared with the earth).
I agree these are bad poems and it is a pity that they are what Brooke is [or was] best remembered for, but even bad poems deserve proper reading.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: IanB (
Date: October 12, 2004 08:03AM

Hugh and Roger, you have covered this one pretty well between you.

To me, the beat of line 6 is:
LEAVE the sick HEARTS that HONour COULD not MOVE
but that creates a certain tension with the way it would be said in best recitation practice, with emphases on the adjective 'sick' and on the negative particle 'not'.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: October 12, 2004 02:08PM

Thanks, RJA. Your changes make sense to me, even though most sites I saw (even Univ Toronto!) have it as shown above. Which text (book) has the correct version that you are quoting from?

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: RJAllen (
Date: October 12, 2004 04:19PM

Well, actually, it wasn't a site, but an old-fashioned English education which laid on the grammar. As you say, most sites quote it like that, but they probably copied it off each other. I'll have a look at the CP to see.

Every phrase after "thanked" is a subordinate clause, giving reasons why god should be thanked, so must either be separated with a comma or completely unpunctuated. You could technically miss the commas before the "ands", which serve the same purpose as a comma in a list, but I think it serves a rhetorical purpose here: if there was no punctuation from after "now" to after "sleeping" it would give an impression of frantic rush- rather more accurate as a depiction of the way WWI began, perhaps [and of the way Brooke wrote these sonnets too], but not a poem to incite enlistment. In fact, when you look at the octet carefully there is still something rushed and hysterical about it: an eight line sentence which begins about god, and suddenly, in line 3, lurches to six lines about "us" and what this means for "us"- god is there for rhetoric, not belief. It makes better sense, perhaps, though not better poetry, if there is a full stop after "weary", so that the last three lines do not mean that "god...[has] wakened us...[to] leave The sick hearts", but are an order from the poet to himself and "us".

I tried posting the various versions i looked at here, but [fortunately?] couldn't get them on. It's a good way to test a poem- look at the way it could be punctuated and you'll often find the meanings.
Actually, i typoed too: there should be a comma after now in every version.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: October 13, 2004 04:52PM

Melis (remember Melis) was asking what it MEANS.

I think it's a better poem if you assume that it's completely sarcastic. So what it MEANS is: War is such a horrible thing, it can make healthy young men prefer DEATH to life.

RJ - I like your point about ALL of Brooke's work being "late."

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: October 14, 2004 09:04AM

I think I got Brooke mixed up with another war poet in my earlier post - one who wrote a couple of patriotic poems and then went to fight and changed his mind about the glory of war - sorry, ignore me - it's my age! I am now considerably better informed. Thanks. One day I will remember who the other war poet was, if I keep taking the tablets.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: RJAllen (
Date: October 14, 2004 10:06AM

Siegfried Sassoon, perhaps: before he saw action he was inspired by a bayonet instructor to write a poem called "Brother Lead and Sister Steel" which he later published as a satire.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: October 14, 2004 02:20PM

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).

The Kiss

TO these I turn, in these I trust—
Brother Lead and Sister Steel.
To his blind power I make appeal,
I guard her beauty clean from rust.

He spins and burns and loves the air,
And splits a skull to win my praise;
But up the nobly marching days
She glitters naked, cold and fair.

Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this:
That in good fury he may feel
The body where he sets his heel
Quail from your downward darting kiss.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Linda (
Date: October 14, 2004 02:41PM

Hugh, I have a copy of The poetical works of Rupert Brooke, Faber, 1946, Geoffrey Keynes ed, 1981 reprint.

The text in this is as you have given it. In the introduction Keynes states that the text has been carefully revised and a number of errors removed. The war sonnets have taken as final authority the original publication in New Numbers, Dec 1914, because these had been checked in proof by Brooke himself.

Does the use of a capital W in the first line affect the use of the comma which RJA wants?

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: October 14, 2004 06:51PM

I don't think the capital W makes any difference. I bet it's only capitalized because it refers to GOD, just as "He" is also capitalized.

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: October 15, 2004 10:52AM

"Siegfried Sassoon" would also make an excellent name for a band

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Michelle (
Date: October 16, 2004 06:59AM

I need a technical analysis of his poem " The Soldier". Can you help me please?

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: October 18, 2004 05:00PM

Remember when we were discussing that film about Siegfried Sassoon's convalescence during WWI?

Another bit of it just came back to me. One of the other soldier's being treated at the same hospital (for shell shock and related disorders) asks the doctor if he thinks Sassoon might be a German spy. The doctor says, "I wouldn't worry about it. They never call themselves Siegfried."

Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Pamela (
Date: October 18, 2004 08:30PM

I read somewhere that a test during WW2 for German spies was to ask them to recite the second verse of the Star-Spangled Banner. If they knew it- they were arrested as spies.


Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: October 19, 2004 10:29AM

I need a technical analysis of his poem " The Soldier".

It's a sonnet.

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.

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Re: Rupert Brooke
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: October 19, 2004 04:44PM


When you are asked for a "technical analysis," don't think of it as being complicated. It's really about the simplest, most obvious things about a poem:

How many lines?
What is the rhyme scheme?
How many "beats" per line?

Stuff like that. TECHNICAL features of a poem are the ones that everyone agrees on.

In the case of "The Solder," you could mention that it consists of TWO SENTENCES.

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