HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Rupert Brooke, born 3 August 1887
“If I should die, think only this of me …”
When Rupert Brooke’s poem, The Soldier which begins:
“If I should die, think only this of me:
That’s there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England …”
was published, it was an instant success. This was in the early days of World War I and patriotic sentiment was running high.
Ministers read the poem out from their pulpits, soldiers quoted it to each other – everyone loved it. Then Rupert Brooke died in 1915 and he became even more famous (he died from an infected mosquito bite, on his way to Gallipoli), for he was absolutely gorgeously handsome, and was a brilliant poet. He became a symbol of the ‘golden youth’ lost in the war.
I have visited the Old Vicarage at Grantchester (now owned by Lady Mary Archer) where Brooke lodged, and I’ve eaten afternoon tea at the Orchard Tea Rooms where Brooke stayed as a student. Grantchester is the setting of his wonderful poem of that name which includes the lines:
“Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?”
If you visit Grantchester, the church clock is permanently fixed at ten to three and you can get honey at the Orchard tea rooms. You can then take a punt back to Cambridge along the Cam, something that Brooke himself often did. He knew every winding of that river, and would spend hours in boats with volumes of poetry to read as he drifted along the river.
Rupert Brooke died aged 27 on 23 April 1915.
Listen to this gorgeous reading of The Soldier, by the mysterious ‘Tom O’Bedlam’.
What do you think of this poem? Tell me in the comment area below.
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