Byron’s Pool … where Lord Byron, Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf and Ludwig Wittgenstein went swimming (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)
When we were studying World War I earlier this year, we spent some time reading poems by the various “War Poets”. One of these poets was Rupert Brooke, who wrote several poems about the war. He died at Gallipoli in 1915 of blood poisoning. This poem is the fifth in a series of five sonnets that Brooke wrote in 1914.
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 conceal’d;
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.
Wash’d 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.