Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rupert Chawner Brooke

It is arguable that Rupert Brooke's poetry and the timing of his death were a perfect tool used by the British military to bolster reserves in a flagging war - a war that was costing both the allies and the central powers so dearly. His death by blood poisoning was in no way romantic, but as one of the premier Georgian poets, he expressed with flair, on bloodless pages, the sanctity and sacred duty of serving that went unquestioned for years and turned Europe into a charnel house. Death in combat on this scale (except for the battles of the American Civil War) had never been seen before in history. Having died so young, and so early in the war, his poetry did not express the grave questioning that went on in the minds of poets like Owen (see WESO) and Sassoon. His bisexuality was hidden for years, in fact almost 100 years, before private letters (quite frank in their depictions) were released by those remaining executors of his literary estate.

"Occasionally I'm faintly shaken by a suspicion that I might find incredible beauty in the washing place, with rows of naked, superb men, bathing in a September sun..."

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