War poet Rupert Brooke is born – On this day in history

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03 August 2016
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3-August-IWM-website-63670.png A portrait of Rupert Brooke among the searchable Imperial War Museums' collections at http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections
WW1 war poet Rupert Brooke, famed for his sonnet 'The Soldier', is born in Rugby, Warwickshire

On 3 August, 1887 war poet Rupert Brooke is born in Rugby, Warwickshire. Known for his idealistic war sonnets during the First World War, particularly ‘The Soldier’, he studied at the University of Cambridge and made friends among the Bloomsbury group of writers. Handsome, talented and well-travelled, he came to public attention in 1915 when The Times Literary Supplement quoted two of his sonnets. In May 1915 his collection of poems, 1914 & Other Poems, was published posthumously. Brooke died on 23 April 1915 from sepsis, following an infected mosquito bite. He passed away on a French hospital ship off the Greek island of Skyros, on route to the landing at Gallipoli.

He was laid to rest in an olive grove on Skyros, where his grave remains to this day. He is also commemorated in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey and there is a memorial to him in Rugby.

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.

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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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