The Life and Selected Works of Rupert Brooke
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Despite such extreme opinions, most contemporary observers agree that Brooke—though only a minor poet—occupies a secure place in English literature as a representative of the mood and character of England before World War I. Brooke's early years were typical of virtually every English boy who was a member of a well-to-do family.
He attended a prestigious boarding school—Rugby, where his father was a headmaster—studied Latin and Greek, and began to write poetry. It was taken for granted that Brooke would go on to one of the great English universities, and accordingly he entered Cambridge in During his three years at Cambridge, Brooke became a visible figure in English intellectual circles, counting among his acquaintances Virginia Woolf, writer Lytton Strachey, economist John Maynard Keynes and his brother Geoffrey later to become Brooke's bibliographer , and poet William Butler Yeats.
Brooke also continued to write poetry, although his poems from this period are, as Eder comments, "highly derivative, facile literary exercises. In addition, he was an increasingly conspicuous figure in literary circles—a fame fueled without doubt by his charm and good looks.
Between his graduation from Cambridge in and the start of World War I in , Brooke spent most of his time writing and traveling. His poetry during this period, which still emphasized the themes of love and nature, resembled that of most of the poets of his generation, including D. Lawrence , John Drinkwater , and Walter de la Mare. These poets came to be known as Georgian poets named after England's king at the time ; their verse reflects an idealistic preoccupation with rural, youthful motifs. In fact, Brooke and many of his friends enjoyed spending time in the countryside, bathing nude in local streams and sleeping on the ground; such activities earned them the nickname "neo-pagans.
Grantchester is a small village near Cambridge where Brooke lived for a time after Brooke, however, wrote the poem later in a cafe in Germany.
After Brooke's death, Henry James wrote that the poem was "booked for immortality. According to Delany, Brooke had experienced a sexual crisis—confusion about homosexual impulses and frustration caused by the rejections of a woman with whom he was in love. In early , these tensions culminated in a nervous breakdown. Brooke spent several months in rehabilitation, during which he was not allowed to write poetry.
By summer, though, he had recovered enough to travel to Germany, a trip that marked the beginning of almost three years of constant travel. In May of , he traveled to the United States, where he spent four months before sailing to the South Pacific. Of the seven months that Brooke stayed in the Pacific, three were spent in Tahiti, where, as Delany states, he wrote "the best of his poems, and [experienced] probably the most unbroken happiness of his life. Ward in Twentieth-Century Literature: Within a few months of his return, World War I began.
The Rupert Brooke Society - Selected Poems
Like most men of his age and class, Brooke immediately volunteered for service in the war. He joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve; the group's first destination was Antwerp, Belgium, where it stayed through the beginning of The letters reveal much about the lives and interests of these two gifted young men, the nature of their relationship, and the activities of many illustrious friends such as Lytton Strachey James's brother , J. Keynes, Virginia Woolf, and Bertrand Russell.
Though overshadowed by others, Rupert Brooke's gifts as a poet were palpable; Siegfried Sassoon is known as a talented and prolific writer and poet. Learn much more about both poets with this edition of Bloom's Major Poets, which includes critical analyses and biographies of each writer. Let us know if you have updated information for this page!
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