The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke: With a Memoir/Appendix
I HAVE thought best to keep the two published volumes intact, observing the reversed chronological order which the author followed in his first book.
The Appendix contains : (1) the only two coherent fragments found in the notebook which he used in the last month of his life (see Memoir); a little song, written, I think, on his travels; and a poem, dating probably from 1912, which for some reason he left unrevised, but which I print for the sake of the characteristic image in the first stanza: (2) a few 'lighter' poems which I dare say he would have printed on their merits if he had published a volume in which they would not have been out of key. Two of these, the "Letter to a Live Poet" and "The Little Dog's Day," were written for Westminster Gazette competitions, in which they won prizes.
I strayed about the deck, an hour, to-night
Under a cloudy moonless sky; and peeped
In at the windows, watched my friends at table,
Or playing cards, or standing in the doorway,
Or coming out into the darkness. Still
No one could see me.
I would have thought of them
—Heedless, within a week of battle—in pity,
Pride in their strength and in the weight and firmness
And link'd beauty of bodies, and pity that
This gay machine of splendour 'ld soon be broken,
Thought little of, pashed, scattered. . . .
I could but see them—against the lamplight—pass
Like coloured shadows, thinner than filmy glass,
Slight bubbles, fainter than the wave's faint light,
That broke to phosphorus out in the night,
Perishing things and strange ghosts—soon to die
To other ghosts—this one, or that, or I.
As the Wind, and as the Wind,
In a corner of the way,
Goes stepping, stands twirling,
Invisibly, comes whirling,
Bows before, and skips behind,
In a grave, an endless play—
So my Heart, and so my Heart,
Following where your feet have gone,
Stirs dust of old dreams there;
He turns a toe; he gleams there,
Treading you a dance apart.
But you see not. You pass on.
The way of love was thus.
He was born one wintry morn
With hands delicious,
And it was well with us.
Love came our quiet way,
Lit pride in us, and died in us,
All in a winter's day.
There is no more to say.
SOMETIMES EVEN NOW . . .
Sometimes even now I may
Steal a prisoner's holiday,
Slip, when all is worst, the bands,
Hurry back, and duck beneath
Time's old tyrannous groping hands,
Speed away with laughing breath
Back to all I'll never know,
Back to you, a year ago.
Truant there from Time and Pain,
What I had, I find again:
Sunlight in the boughs above,
Sunlight in your hair and dress,
The Hands too proud for all but Love,
The Lips of utter kindliness,
The Heart of bravery swift and clean
Where the best was safe, I knew,
And laughter in the gold and green,
And song, and friends, and ever you
With smiling and familiar eyes,
You—but friendly: you—but true.
And Innocence accounted wise,
And Faith the fool, the pitiable.
Love so rare, one would swear
All of earth for ever well—
Careless lips and flying hair,
And little things I may not tell.
It does but double the heart-ache
When I wake, when I wake.
SONNET: IN TIME OF REVOLT
The Thing must End. I am no boy! I am
No boy!! being twenty-one. Uncle, you make
A great mistake, a very great mistake,
In chiding me for letting slip a 'Damn!'
What's more, you called me 'Mother's one ewe lamb,'
Bade me 'refrain from swearing—for her sake—
Till I'm grown up' . . . —By God! I think you take
Too much upon you, Uncle William!
You say I am your brother's only son.
I know it. And, 'What of it?' I reply.
My heart's resolvéd. Something must be done.
So shall I curb, so baffle, so suppress
This too avuncular officiousness,
A LETTER TO A LIVE POET
Sir, since the last Elizabethan died,
Or, rather, that more Paradisal muse,
Blind with much light, passed to the light more glorious
Or deeper blindness, no man's hand, as thine,
Has, on the world's most noblest chord of song,
Struck certain magic strains. Ears satiate
With the clamorous, timorous whisperings of to-day,
Thrilled to perceive once more the spacious voice
And serene utterance of old. We heard
—With rapturous breath half-held, as a dreamer dreams
Who dares not know it dreaming, lest he wake—
The odorous, amorous style of poetry,
The melancholy knocking of those lines,
The long, low soughing of pentameters,
—Or the sharp of rhyme as a bird's cry—
And the innumerable truant polysyllables
Multitudinously twittering like a bee.
Fulfilled our hearts were with that music then,
And all the evenings sighed it to the dawn,
And all the lovers heard it from all the trees.
All of the accents upon all the norms!
—And ah! the stress on the penultimate!
We never knew blank verse could have such feet.
Where is it now? Oh, more than ever, now
I sometimes think no poetry is read
Save where some sepultured Cæsura bled,
Royally incarnadining all the line.
Is the imperial iamb laid to rest,
And the young trochee, having done enough
Ah! turn again! Sing so to us, who are sick
Of seeming-simple rhymes, bizarre emotions,
Decked in the simple verses of the day,
Infinite meaning in a little gloom,
Irregular thoughts in stanzas regular,
Modern despair in antique metres, myths
Incomprehensible at evening,
And symbols that mean nothing in the dawn.
The slow lines swell. The new style sighs. The Celt
Moans round with many voices.
God! to see
Gaunt anapæsts stand up out of the verse,
Combative accents, stress where no stress should be,
Spondee on spondee, iamb on choriamb,
The thrill of all the tribrachs in the world,
And all the vowels rising to the E!
To hear the blessed mutter of those verbs,
Conjunctions passionate toward each other's arms,
And epithets like amaranthine lovers
Stretching luxuriously to the stars,
All prouder pronouns than the dawn, and all
The thunder of the trumpets of the noun!
FRAGMENT ON PAINTERS
There is an evil which that Race attains
Who represent God's World with oily paints,
Who mock the Universe, so rare and sweet,
With spots of colour on a canvas sheet,
Defile the Lovely and insult the Good
By scrawling upon little bits of wood.
They'd snare the moon, and catch the immortal sun
With madder brown and pale vermillion,
Entrap an English evening's magic hush . . .
. . . . . .
THE TRUE BEATITUDE
They say, when the Great Prompter's hand shall ring
Down the last curtain upon earth and sea,
All the Good Mimes will have eternity
To praise their Author, worship love and sing;
Or to the walls of Heaven wandering
Look down on those damned for a fretful d——,
Mock them (all theologians agree
On this reward for virtue), laugh, and fling
New sulphur on the sin-incarnadined . . .
Ah, Love! still temporal, and still atmospheric,
We share a peace by no divine divined,
An earthly garden hidden from any cleric,
Untrodden of God, by no Eternal curbed.
Hand trembling towards hand; the amazing lights
Of heart and eye. They stood on supreme heights.
Ah, the delirious weeks of honeymoon!
Soon they returned, and, after strange adventures,
Settled at Balham by the end of June.
Their money was in Can. Pacs. B. Debentures,
And in Antofagastas. Still he went
Cityward daily; still she did abide
At home. And both were really quite content
With work and social pleasures. Then they died.
They left three children (besides George, who drank):
The eldest Jane, who married Mr Bell,
William, the head-clerk in the County Bank,
And Henry, a stock-broker, doing well.
Lulworth, 1 January 1911.
THE LITTLE DOG'S DAY
All in the town were still asleep,
When the sun came up with a shout and a leap.
In the lonely streets unseen by man,
A little dog danced. And the day began.
All his life he'd been good, as far as he could,
And the poor little beast had done all that he should.
But this morning he swore, by Odin and Thor
And the Canine Valhalla—he'd stand it no more!
He fought with the he-dogs, and winked at the she-dogs,
A thing that had never been heard of before.
'For the stigma of gluttony, I care not a button!' he
Cried, and ate all he could swallow—and more.
He took sinewy lumps from the shins of old frumps,
And mangled the errand-boys—when he could get 'em.
He shammed furious rabies, and bit all the babies,
And followed the cats up the trees, and then ate 'em!
They thought 'twas the devil was holding a revel,
And sent for the parson to drive him away;
For the town never knew such a hullabaloo
As that little dog raised—till the end of that day.
When the blood-red sun had gone burning down,
And the lights were lit in the little town,
Outside, in the gloom of the twilight grey,
The little dog died when he'd had his day.
- Now we're off.
- I'll make them sit up.
- Pronounce either to suit rhyme.
- Pronounce either to suit rhyme.