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Best Famous Rupert Brooke Poems

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by Joyce Kilmer | |

In Memory of Rupert Brooke

 In alien earth, across a troubled sea,
His body lies that was so fair and young.
His mouth is stopped, with half his songs unsung; His arm is still, that struck to make men free.
But let no cloud of lamentation be Where, on a warrior's grave, a lyre is hung.
We keep the echoes of his golden tongue, We keep the vision of his chivalry.
So Israel's joy, the loveliest of kings, Smote now his harp, and now the hostile horde.
To-day the starry roof of Heaven rings With psalms a soldier made to praise his Lord; And David rests beneath Eternal wings, Song on his lips, and in his hand a sword.


by John Betjeman | |

The Olympic Girl

 The sort of girl I like to see
Smiles down from her great height at me.
She stands in strong, athletic pose And wrinkles her retrouss? nose.
Is it distaste that makes her frown, So furious and freckled, down On an unhealthy worm like me? Or am I what she likes to see? I do not know, though much I care, xxxxxxxx.
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would I were (Forgive me, shade of Rupert Brooke) An object fit to claim her look.
Oh! would I were her racket press'd With hard excitement to her breast And swished into the sunlit air Arm-high above her tousled hair, And banged against the bounding ball "Oh! Plung!" my tauten'd strings would call, "Oh! Plung! my darling, break my strings For you I will do brilliant things.
" And when the match is over, I Would flop beside you, hear you sigh; And then with what supreme caress, You'd tuck me up into my press.
Fair tigress of the tennis courts, So short in sleeve and strong in shorts, Little, alas, to you I mean, For I am bald and old and green.


by Rupert Brooke | |

The Goddess in the Wood

 In a flowered dell the Lady Venus stood,
Amazed with sorrow.
Down the morning one Far golden horn in the gold of trees and sun Rang out; and held; and died.
… She thought the wood Grew quieter.
Wing, and leaf, and pool of light Forgot to dance.
Dumb lay the unfalling stream; Life one eternal instant rose in dream Clear out of time, poised on a golden height.
… Till a swift terror broke the abrupt hour.
The gold waves purled amidst the green above her; And a bird sang.
With one sharp-taken breath, By sunlit branches and unshaken flower, The immortal limbs flashed to the human lover, And the immortal eyes to look on death.


More great poems below...

by Rupert Brooke | |

The Busy Heart

 Now that we’ve done our best and worst, and parted, 
I would fill my mind with thoughts that will not rend.
(O heart, I do not dare go empty-hearted) I’ll think of Love in books, Love without end; Women with child, content; and old men sleeping; And wet strong ploughlands, scarred for certain grain; And babes that weep, and so forget their weeping; And the young heavens, forgetful after rain; And evening hush, broken by homing wings; And Song’s nobility, and Wisdom holy, That live, we dead.
I would think of a thousand things, Lovely and durable, and taste them slowly, One after one, like tasting a sweet food.
I have need to busy my heart with quietude.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Victory

 All night the ways of Heaven were desolate,
Long roads across a gleaming empty sky.
Outcast and doomed and driven, you and I, Alone, serene beyond all love or hate, Terror or triumph, were content to wait, We, silent and all-knowing.
Suddenly Swept through the heaven low-crouching from on high, One horseman, downward to the earth's low gate.
Oh, perfect from the ultimate height of living, Lightly we turned, through wet woods blossom-hung, Into the open.
Down the supernal roads, With plumes a-tossing, purple flags far flung, Rank upon rank, unbridled, unforgiving, Thundered the black battalions of the Gods.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Sonnet Reversed

 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.


by Rupert Brooke | |

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.
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.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Waikiki

 Warm perfumes like a breath from vine and tree
Drift down the darkness.
Plangent, hidden from eyes Somewhere an `eukaleli' thrills and cries And stabs with pain the night's brown savagery.
And dark scents whisper; and dim waves creep to me, Gleam like a woman's hair, stretch out, and rise; And new stars burn into the ancient skies, Over the murmurous soft Hawaian sea.
And I recall, lose, grasp, forget again, And still remember, a tale I have heard, or known, An empty tale, of idleness and pain, Of two that loved -- or did not love -- and one Whose perplexed heart did evil, foolishly, A long while since, and by some other sea.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Sonnet: Oh! Death will find me long before I tire

 Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire
Of watching you; and swing me suddenly
Into the shade and loneliness and mire
Of the last land! There, waiting patiently,

One day, I think, I'll feel a cool wind blowing,
See a slow light across the Stygian tide,
And hear the Dead about me stir, unknowing,
And tremble.
And I shall know that you have died, And watch you, a broad-browed and smiling dream, Pass, light as ever, through the lightless host, Quietly ponder, start, and sway, and gleam -- Most individual and bewildering ghost! -- And turn, and toss your brown delightful head Amusedly, among the ancient Dead.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Retrospect

 In your arms was still delight,
Quiet as a street at night;
And thoughts of you, I do remember,
Were green leaves in a darkened chamber,
Were dark clouds in a moonless sky.
Love, in you, went passing by, Penetrative, remote, and rare, Like a bird in the wide air, And, as the bird, it left no trace In the heaven of your face.
In your stupidity I found The sweet hush after a sweet sound.
All about you was the light That dims the greying end of night; Desire was the unrisen sun, Joy the day not yet begun, With tree whispering to tree, Without wind, quietly.
Wisdom slept within your hair, And Long-Suffering was there, And, in the flowing of your dress, Undiscerning Tenderness.
And when you thought, it seemed to me, Infinitely, and like a sea, About the slight world you had known Your vast unconsciousness was thrown.
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O haven without wave or tide! Silence, in which all songs have died! Holy book, where hearts are still! And home at length under the hill! O mother quiet, breasts of peace, Where love itself would faint and cease! O infinite deep I never knew, I would come back, come back to you, Find you, as a pool unstirred, Kneel down by you, and never a word, Lay my head, and nothing said, In your hands, ungarlanded; And a long watch you would keep; And I should sleep, and I should sleep!


by Rupert Brooke | |

Kindliness

 When love has changed to kindliness --
Oh, love, our hungry lips, that press
So tight that Time's an old god's dream
Nodding in heaven, and whisper stuff
Seven million years were not enough
To think on after, make it seem
Less than the breath of children playing,
A blasphemy scarce worth the saying,
A sorry jest, "When love has grown
To kindliness -- to kindliness!" .
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And yet -- the best that either's known Will change, and wither, and be less, At last, than comfort, or its own Remembrance.
And when some caress Tendered in habit (once a flame All heaven sang out to) wakes the shame Unworded, in the steady eyes We'll have, -- THAT day, what shall we do? Being so noble, kill the two Who've reached their second-best? Being wise, Break cleanly off, and get away.
Follow down other windier skies New lures, alone? Or shall we stay, Since this is all we've known, content In the lean twilight of such day, And not remember, not lament? That time when all is over, and Hand never flinches, brushing hand; And blood lies quiet, for all you're near; And it's but spoken words we hear, Where trumpets sang; when the mere skies Are stranger and nobler than your eyes; And flesh is flesh, was flame before; And infinite hungers leap no more In the chance swaying of your dress; And love has changed to kindliness.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Mummia

 As those of old drank mummia
To fire their limbs of lead,
Making dead kings from Africa
Stand pandar to their bed;

Drunk on the dead, and medicined
With spiced imperial dust,
In a short night they reeled to find
Ten centuries of lust.
So I, from paint, stone, tale, and rhyme, Stuffed love's infinity, And sucked all lovers of all time To rarify ecstasy.
Helen's the hair shuts out from me Verona's livid skies; Gypsy the lips I press; and see Two Antonys in your eyes.
The unheard invisible lovely dead Lie with us in this place, And ghostly hands above my head Close face to straining face; Their blood is wine along our limbs; Their whispering voices wreathe Savage forgotten drowsy hymns Under the names we breathe; Woven from their tomb, and one with it, The night wherein we press; Their thousand pitchy pyres have lit Your flaming nakedness.
For the uttermost years have cried and clung To kiss your mouth to mine; And hair long dust was caught, was flung, Hand shaken to hand divine, And Life has fired, and Death not shaded, All Time's uncounted bliss, And the height o' the world has flamed and faded, Love, that our love be this!


by Rupert Brooke | |

Ante Aram

 Before thy shrine I kneel, an unknown worshipper,
Chanting strange hymns to thee and sorrowful litanies,
Incense of dirges, prayers that are as holy myrrh.
Ah, goddess, on thy throne of tears and faint low sighs, Weary at last to theeward come the feet that err, And empty hearts grown tired of the world's vanities.
How fair this cool deep silence to a wanderer Deaf with the roar of winds along the open skies! Sweet, after sting and bitter kiss of sea-water, The pale Lethean wine within thy chalices! I come before thee, I, too tired wanderer, To heed the horror of the shrine, the distant cries, And evil whispers in the gloom, or the swift whirr Of terrible wings -- I, least of all thy votaries, With a faint hope to see the scented darkness stir, And, parting, frame within its quiet mysteries One face, with lips than autumn-lilies tenderer, And voice more sweet than the far plaint of viols is, Or the soft moan of any grey-eyed lute-player.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Choriambics -- II

 Here the flame that was ash, shrine that was void,
lost in the haunted wood,
I have tended and loved, year upon year, I in the solitude
Waiting, quiet and glad-eyed in the dark, knowing that once a gleam
Glowed and went through the wood.
Still I abode strong in a golden dream, Unrecaptured.
For I, I that had faith, knew that a face would glance One day, white in the dim woods, and a voice call, and a radiance Fill the grove, and the fire suddenly leap .
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and, in the heart of it, End of labouring, you! Therefore I kept ready the altar, lit The flame, burning apart.
Face of my dreams vainly in vision white Gleaming down to me, lo! hopeless I rise now.
For about midnight Whispers grew through the wood suddenly, strange cries in the boughs above Grated, cries like a laugh.
Silent and black then through the sacred grove Great birds flew, as a dream, troubling the leaves, passing at length.
I knew Long expected and long loved, that afar, God of the dim wood, you Somewhere lay, as a child sleeping, a child suddenly reft from mirth, White and wonderful yet, white in your youth, stretched upon foreign earth, God, immortal and dead! Therefore I go; never to rest, or win Peace, and worship of you more, and the dumb wood and the shrine therein.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Vision Of The Archangels The

 Slowly up silent peaks, the white edge of the world,
Trod four archangels, clear against the unheeding sky,
Bearing, with quiet even steps, and great wings furled,
A little dingy coffin; where a child must lie,
It was so tiny.
(Yet, you had fancied, God could never Have bidden a child turn from the spring and the sunlight, And shut him in that lonely shell, to drop for ever Into the emptiness and silence, into the night.
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) They then from the sheer summit cast, and watched it fall, Through unknown glooms, that frail black coffin -- and therein God's little pitiful Body lying, worn and thin, And curled up like some crumpled, lonely flower-petal -- Till it was no more visible; then turned again With sorrowful quiet faces downward to the plain.


by Rupert Brooke | |

The Vision of the Archangels

 Slowly up silent peaks, the white edge of the world,
Trod four archangels, clear against the unheeding sky, 
Bearing, with quiet even steps, and great wings furled, 
A little dingy coffin; where a child must lie, 
It was so tiny.
(Yet, you had fancied, God could never Have bidden a child turn from the spring and the sunlight, And shut him in that lonely shell, to drop for ever Into the emptiness and silence, into the night.
…) They then from the sheer summit cast, and watched it fall, Through unknown glooms, that frail black coffin—and therein God’s little pitiful Body lying, worn and thin, And curled up like some crumpled, lonely flower petal— Till it was no more visible; then turned again With sorrowful quiet faces downward to the plain.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Choriambics -- I

 Ah! not now, when desire burns, and the wind calls, and the suns of spring
Light-foot dance in the woods, whisper of life, woo me to wayfaring;
Ah! not now should you come, now when the road beckons,
and good friends call,
Where are songs to be sung, fights to be fought, yea! and the best of all,
Love, on myriad lips fairer than yours, kisses you could not give! .
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Dearest, why should I mourn, whimper, and whine, I that have yet to live? Sorrow will I forget, tears for the best, love on the lips of you, Now, when dawn in the blood wakes, and the sun laughs up the eastern blue; I'll forget and be glad! Only at length, dear, when the great day ends, When love dies with the last light, and the last song has been sung, and friends All are perished, and gloom strides on the heaven: then, as alone I lie, 'Mid Death's gathering winds, frightened and dumb, sick for the past, may I Feel you suddenly there, cool at my brow; then may I hear the peace Of your voice at the last, whispering love, calling, ere all can cease In the silence of death; then may I see dimly, and know, a space, Bending over me, last light in the dark, once, as of old, your face.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Town and Country

 Here, where love's stuff is body, arm and side
Are stabbing-sweet 'gainst chair and lamp and wall.
In every touch more intimate meanings hide; And flaming brains are the white heart of all.
Here, million pulses to one centre beat: Closed in by men's vast friendliness, alone, Two can be drunk with solitude, and meet On the sheer point where sense with knowing's one.
Here the green-purple clanging royal night, And the straight lines and silent walls of town, And roar, and glare, and dust, and myriad white Undying passers, pinnacle and crown Intensest heavens between close-lying faces By the lamp's airless fierce ecstatic fire; And we've found love in little hidden places, Under great shades, between the mist and mire.
Stay! though the woods are quiet, and you've heard Night creep along the hedges.
Never go Where tangled foliage shrouds the crying bird, And the remote winds sigh, and waters flow! Lest -- as our words fall dumb on windless noons, Or hearts grow hushed and solitary, beneath Unheeding stars and unfamiliar moons, Or boughs bend over, close and quiet as death, -- Unconscious and unpassionate and still, Cloud-like we lean and stare as bright leaves stare, And gradually along the stranger hill Our unwalled loves thin out on vacuous air, And suddenly there's no meaning in our kiss, And your lit upward face grows, where we lie, Lonelier and dreadfuller than sunlight is, And dumb and mad and eyeless like the sky.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Mutability

 They say there's a high windless world and strange,
Out of the wash of days and temporal tide,
Where Faith and Good, Wisdom and Truth abide,
`Aeterna corpora', subject to no change.
There the sure suns of these pale shadows move; There stand the immortal ensigns of our war; Our melting flesh fixed Beauty there, a star, And perishing hearts, imperishable Love.
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Dear, we know only that we sigh, kiss, smile; Each kiss lasts but the kissing; and grief goes over; Love has no habitation but the heart.
Poor straws! on the dark flood we catch awhile, Cling, and are borne into the night apart.
The laugh dies with the lips, `Love' with the lover.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Day That I Have Loved

 Tenderly, day that I have loved, I close your eyes,
And smooth your quiet brow, and fold your thin dead hands.
The grey veils of the half-light deepen; colour dies.
I bear you, a light burden, to the shrouded sands, Where lies your waiting boat, by wreaths of the sea's making Mist-garlanded, with all grey weeds of the water crowned.
There you'll be laid, past fear of sleep or hope of waking; And over the unmoving sea, without a sound, Faint hands will row you outward, out beyond our sight, Us with stretched arms and empty eyes on the far-gleaming And marble sand.
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Beyond the shifting cold twilight, Further than laughter goes, or tears, further than dreaming, There'll be no port, no dawn-lit islands! But the drear Waste darkening, and, at length, flame ultimate on the deep.
Oh, the last fire -- and you, unkissed, unfriended there! Oh, the lone way's red ending, and we not there to weep! (We found you pale and quiet, and strangely crowned with flowers, Lovely and secret as a child.
You came with us, Came happily, hand in hand with the young dancing hours, High on the downs at dawn!) Void now and tenebrous, The grey sands curve before me.
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From the inland meadows, Fragrant of June and clover, floats the dark, and fills The hollow sea's dead face with little creeping shadows, And the white silence brims the hollow of the hills.
Close in the nest is folded every weary wing, Hushed all the joyful voices; and we, who held you dear, Eastward we turn and homeward, alone, remembering .
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Day that I loved, day that I loved, the Night is here!


by Rupert Brooke | |

Libido

 How should I know? The enormous wheels of will
Drove me cold-eyed on tired and sleepless feet.
Night was void arms and you a phantom still, And day your far light swaying down the street.
As never fool for love, I starved for you; My throat was dry and my eyes hot to see.
Your mouth so lying was most heaven in view, And your remembered smell most agony.
Love wakens love! I felt your hot wrist shiver And suddenly the mad victory I planned Flashed real, in your burning bending head.
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My conqueror's blood was cool as a deep river In shadow; and my heart beneath your hand Quieter than a dead man on a bed.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Sleeping Out: Full Moon

 They sleep within.
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I cower to the earth, I waking, I only.
High and cold thou dreamest, O queen, high-dreaming and lonely.
We have slept too long, who can hardly win The white one flame, and the night-long crying; The viewless passers; the world's low sighing With desire, with yearning, To the fire unburning, To the heatless fire, to the flameless ecstasy! .
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Helpless I lie.
And around me the feet of thy watchers tread.
There is a rumour and a radiance of wings above my head, An intolerable radiance of wings.
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All the earth grows fire, White lips of desire Brushing cool on the forehead, croon slumbrous things.
Earth fades; and the air is thrilled with ways, Dewy paths full of comfort.
And radiant bands, The gracious presence of friendly hands, Help the blind one, the glad one, who stumbles and strays, Stretching wavering hands, up, up, through the praise Of a myriad silver trumpets, through cries, To all glory, to all gladness, to the infinite height, To the gracious, the unmoving, the mother eyes, And the laughter, and the lips, of light.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Blue Evening

 My restless blood now lies a-quiver,
Knowing that always, exquisitely,
This April twilight on the river
Stirs anguish in the heart of me.
For the fast world in that rare glimmer Puts on the witchery of a dream, The straight grey buildings, richly dimmer, The fiery windows, and the stream With willows leaning quietly over, The still ecstatic fading skies .
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And all these, like a waiting lover, Murmur and gleam, lift lustrous eyes, Drift close to me, and sideways bending Whisper delicious words.
But I Stretch terrible hands, uncomprehending, Shaken with love; and laugh; and cry.
My agony made the willows quiver; I heard the knocking of my heart Die loudly down the windless river, I heard the pale skies fall apart, And the shrill stars' unmeaning laughter, And my voice with the vocal trees Weeping.
And Hatred followed after, Shrilling madly down the breeze.
In peace from the wild heart of clamour, A flower in moonlight, she was there, Was rippling down white ways of glamour Quietly laid on wave and air.
Her passing left no leaf a-quiver.
Pale flowers wreathed her white, white brows.
Her feet were silence on the river; And 'Hush!' she said, between the boughs.


by Rupert Brooke | |

IV. The Dead

 These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness.
Dawn was theirs, And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended; Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone; Touched flowers and furs and cheeks.
All this is ended.
There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter And lit by the rich skies, all day.
And after, Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance And wandering loveliness.
He leaves a white Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance, A width, a shining peace, under the night.


by Rupert Brooke | |

Paralysis

 For moveless limbs no pity I crave,
That never were swift! Still all I prize,
Laughter and thought and friends, I have;
No fool to heave luxurious sighs
For the woods and hills that I never knew.
The more excellent way's yet mine! And you Flower-laden come to the clean white cell, And we talk as ever -- am I not the same? With our hearts we love, immutable, You without pity, I without shame.
We talk as of old; as of old you go Out under the sky, and laughing, I know, Flit through the streets, your heart all me; Till you gain the world beyond the town.
Then -- I fade from your heart, quietly; And your fleet steps quicken.
The strong down Smiles you welcome there; the woods that love you Close lovely and conquering arms above you.
O ever-moving, O lithe and free! Fast in my linen prison I press On impassable bars, or emptily Laugh in my great loneliness.
And still in the white neat bed I strive Most impotently against that gyve; Being less now than a thought, even, To you alone with your hills and heaven.