The Collected
Poems of
Rupert Brooke


  1. Second Best
  2. Day That I Have Loved
  3. Sleeping Out: Full Moon
  4. In Examination
  5. Pine-Trees and the Sky: Evening
  6. Wagner
  7. The Vision of the Archangels
  8. Seaside
  9. On the Death of Smet-Smet,
    the Hippopotamus-Goddess
  10. The Song of the Pilgrims
  11. The Song of the Beasts
  12. Failure
  13. Ante Aram
  14. Dawn
  15. The Call
  16. The Wayfarers
  17. The Beginning


  18. Sonnet: Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire
  19. Sonnet: I said I splendidly loved you; it's not true.
  20. Success
  21. Dust
  22. Kindliness
  23. Mummia
  24. The Fish
  25. Thoughts on the Shape
    of the Human Body
  26. Flight
  27. The Hill
  28. The One Before the Last
  29. The Jolly Company
  30. The Life Beyond
  31. Lines Written in the Belief That the Ancient Roman Festival of the Dead Was Called Ambarvalia
  32. Dead Men's Love
  33. Town and Country
  34. Paralysis
  35. Menelaus and Helen
  36. Libido
  37. Jealousy
  38. Blue Evening
  39. The Charm
  40. Finding
  41. Song
  42. The Voice
  43. Dining-Room Tea
  44. The Goddess in the Wood
  45. A Channel Passage
  46. Victory
  47. Day and Night


  48. Choriambics -- I
  49. Choriambics -- II
  50. Desertion


  51. I. Peace
  52. II. Safety
  53. III. The Dead
  54. IV. The Dead
  55. V. The Soldier
  56. The Treasure

    The South Seas

  57. Tiare Tahiti
  58. Retrospect
  59. The Great Lover
  60. Heaven
  61. Doubts
  62. There's Wisdom in Women
  63. He Wonders Whether to Praise or to Blame Her
  64. A Memory (From a sonnet-sequence)
  65. One Day
  66. Waikiki
  67. Hauntings
  68. Sonnet (Suggested by some of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research)
  69. Clouds
  70. Mutability

    Other Poems

  71. The Busy Heart
  72. Love
  73. Unfortunate
  74. The Chilterns
  75. Home
  76. The Night Journey
  77. Song
  78. Beauty and Beauty
  79. The Way That Lovers Use
  80. Mary and Gabriel
  81. The Funeral of Youth: Threnody


  82. The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

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Rupert Brooke
The Collected Poems of

Rupert Brooke


Edited for the Web
by Bob Blair

. 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.

    Rupert Brooke

. Sonnet: "I said I splendidly loved you; it's not true"

    I SAID I splendidly loved you; it's not true.
    Such long swift tides stir not a land-locked sea.
    On gods or fools the high risk falls -- - on you -- -
    The clean clear bitter-sweet that's not for me.
    Love soars from earth to ecstasies unwist.
    Love is flung Lucifer-like from Heaven to Hell.
    But -- - there are wanderers in the middle mist,
    Who cry for shadows, clutch, and cannot tell
    Whether they love at all, or, loving, whom:
    An old song's lady, a fool in fancy dress,
    Or phantoms, or their own face on the gloom;
    For love of Love, or from heart's loneliness.
    Pleasure's not theirs, nor pain. They doubt, and sigh,
    And do not love at all. Of these am I.

    Rupert Brooke

. Success

    I THINK if you had loved me when I wanted;
    If I'd looked up one day, and seen your eyes,
    And found my wild sick blasphemous prayer granted,
    And your brown face, that's full of pity and wise,
    Flushed suddenly; the white godhead in new fear
    Intolerably so struggling, and so shamed;
    Most holy and far, if you'd come all too near,
    If earth had seen Earth's lordliest wild limbs tamed,
    Shaken, and trapped, and shivering, for my touch -- -
    Myself should I have slain? or that foul you?
    But this the strange gods, who had given so much,
    To have seen and known you, this they might not do.
    One last shame's spared me, one black word's unspoken;
    And I'm alone; and you have not awoken.

    Rupert Brooke

. Dust

    WHEN the white flame in us is gone,
    And we that lost the world's delight
    Stiffen in darkness, left alone
    To crumble in our separate night;

    When your swift hair is quiet in death,
    And through the lips corruption thrust
    Has stilled the labour of my breath -- -
    When we are dust, when we are dust! -- -

    Not dead, not undesirous yet,
    Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
    We'll ride the air, and shine, and flit,
    Around the places where we died,

    And dance as dust before the sun,
    And light of foot, and unconfined,
    Hurry from road to road, and run
    About the errands of the wind.

    And every mote, on earth or air,
    Will speed and gleam, down later days,
    And like a secret pilgrim fare
    By eager and invisible ways,

    Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,
    Till, beyond thinking, out of view,
    One mote of all the dust that's I
    Shall meet one atom that was you.

    Then in some garden hushed from wind,
    Warm in a sunset's afterglow,
    The lovers in the flowers will find
    A sweet and strange unquiet grow

    Upon the peace; and, past desiring,
    So high a beauty in the air,
    And such a light, and such a quiring,
    And such a radiant ecstasy there,

    They'll know not if it's fire, or dew,
    Or out of earth, or in the height,
    Singing, or flame, or scent, or hue,
    Or two that pass, in light, to light,

    Out of the garden, higher, higher. . . .
    But in that instant they shall learn
    The shattering ecstasy of our fire,
    And the weak passionless hearts will burn

    And faint in that amazing glow,
    Until the darkness close above;
    And they will know -- - poor fools, they'll know! -- -
    One moment, what it is to love.

    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!" . . .
    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.

    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!

    Rupert Brooke

. The Fish

    IN A cool curving world he lies
    And ripples with dark ecstasies.
    The kind luxurious lapse and steal
    Shapes all his universe to feel
    And know and be; the clinging stream
    Closes his memory, glooms his dream,
    Who lips the roots o' the shore, and glides
    Superb on unreturning tides.
    Those silent waters weave for him
    A fluctuant mutable world and dim,
    Where wavering masses bulge and gape
    Mysterious, and shape to shape
    Dies momently through whorl and hollow,
    And form and line and solid follow
    Solid and line and form to dream
    Fantastic down the eternal stream;
    An obscure world, a shifting world,
    Bulbous, or pulled to thin, or curled,
    Or serpentine, or driving arrows,
    Or serene slidings, or March narrows.
    There slipping wave and shore are one,
    And weed and mud. No ray of sun,
    But glow to glow fades down the deep
    (As dream to unknown dream in sleep);
    Shaken translucency illumes
    The hyaline of drifting glooms;
    The strange soft-handed depth subdues
    Drowned colour there, but black to hues,
    As death to living, decomposes -- -
    Red darkness of the heart of roses,
    Blue brilliant from dead starless skies,
    And gold that lies behind the eyes,
    The unknown unnameable sightless white
    That is the essential flame of night,
    Lustreless purple, hooded green,
    The myriad hues that lie between
    Darkness and darkness! . . .

                                And all's one.
    Gentle, embracing, quiet, dun,
    The world he rests in, world he knows,
    Perpetual curving. Only -- - grows
    An eddy in that ordered falling,
    A knowledge from the gloom, a calling
    Weed in the wave, gleam in the mud -- -
    The dark fire leaps along his blood;
    Dateless and deathless, blind and still,
    The intricate impulse works its will;
    His woven world drops back; and he,
    Sans providence, sans memory,
    Unconscious and directly driven,
    Fades to some dank sufficient heaven.

    O world of lips, O world of laughter,
    Where hope is fleet and thought flies after,
    Of lights in the clear night, of cries
    That drift along the wave and rise
    Thin to the glittering stars above,
    You know the hands, the eyes of love!
    The strife of limbs, the sightless clinging,
    The infinite distance, and the singing
    Blown by the wind, a flame of sound,
    The gleam, the flowers, and vast around
    The horizon, and the heights above -- -
    You know the sigh, the song of love!

    But there the night is close, and there
    Darkness is cold and strange and bare;
    And the secret deeps are whisperless;
    And rhythm is all deliciousness;
    And joy is in the throbbing tide,
    Whose intricate fingers beat and glide
    In felt bewildering harmonies
    Of trembling touch; and music is
    The exquisite knocking of the blood.
    Space is no more, under the mud;
    His bliss is older than the sun.
    Silent and straight the waters run.
    The lights, the cries, the willows dim,
    And the dark tide are one with him.

    Rupert Brooke

. Thoughts on the Shape of the Human Body

    HOW can we find? how can we rest? how can
    We, being gods, win joy, or peace, being man?
    We, the gaunt zanies of a witless Fate,
    Who love the unloving and lover hate,
    Forget the moment ere the moment slips,
    Kiss with blind lips that seek beyond the lips,
    Who want, and know not what we want, and cry
    With crooked mouths for Heaven, and throw it by.
    Love's for completeness! No perfection grows
    'Twixt leg, and arm, elbow, and ear, and nose,
    And joint, and socket; but unsatisfied
    Sprawling desires, shapeless, perverse, denied.
    Finger with finger wreathes; we love, and gape,
    Fantastic shape to mazed fantastic shape,
    Straggling, irregular, perplexed, embossed,
    Grotesquely twined, extravagantly lost
    By crescive paths and strange protuberant ways
    From sanity and from wholeness and from grace.
    How can love triumph, how can solace be,
    Where fever turns toward fever, knee toward knee?
    Could we but fill to harmony, and dwell
    Simple as our thought and as perfectible,
    Rise disentangled from humanity
    Strange whole and new into simplicity,
    Grow to a radiant round love, and bear
    Unfluctuant passion for some perfect sphere,
    Love moon to moon unquestioning, and be
    Like the star Lunisequa, steadfastly
    Following the round clear orb of her delight,
    Patiently ever, through the eternal night!

    Rupert Brooke

. Flight

    VOICES out of the shade that cried,
    And long noon in the hot calm places,
    And children's play by the wayside,
    And country eyes, and quiet faces -- -
    All these were round my steady paces.

    Those that I could have loved went by me;
    Cool gardened homes slept in the sun;
    I heard the whisper of water nigh me,
    Saw hands that beckoned, shone, were gone
    In the green and gold. And I went on.

    For if my echoing footfall slept,
    Soon a far whispering there'd be
    Of a little lonely wind that crept
    From tree to tree, and distantly
    Followed me, followed me. . . .

    But the blue vaporous end of day
    Brought peace, and pursuit baffled quite,
    Where between pine-woods dipped the way.
    I turned, slipped in and out of sight.
    I trod as quiet as the night.

    The pine-boles kept perpetual hush;
    And in the boughs wind never swirled.
    I found a flowering lowly bush,
    And bowed, slid in, and sighed and curled,
    Hidden at rest from all the world.

    Safe! I was safe, and glad, I knew!
    Yet -- - with cold heart and cold wet brows
    I lay. And the dark fell. . . . There grew
    Meward a sound of shaken boughs;
    And ceased, above my intricate house;

    And silence, silence, silence found me. . . .
    I felt the unfaltering movement creep
    Among the leaves. They shed around me
    Calm clouds of scent, that I did weep;
    And stroked my face. I fell asleep.

    Rupert Brooke

. The Hill

    BREATHLESS, we flung us on the windy hill,
    Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
    You said, "Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
    Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
    When we are old, are old. . . ." "And when we die
    All's over that is ours; and life burns on
    Through other lovers, other lips," said I,
    -- "Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!"

    "We are Earth's best, that learnt her lesson here.
    Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!" we said;
    "We shall go down with unreluctant tread
    Rose-crowned into the darkness!" . . . Proud we were,
    And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
    -- And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

    Rupert Brooke

. The One Before the Last

    I DREAMT I was in love again
    With the One Before the Last,
    And smiled to greet the pleasant pain
    Of that innocent young past.

    But I jumped to feel how sharp had been
    The pain when it did live,
    How the faded dreams of Nineteen-ten
    Were Hell in Nineteen-five.

    The boy's woe was as keen and clear,
    The boy's love just as true,
    And the One Before the Last, my dear,
    Hurt quite as much as you.

                    * * * * *

    Sickly I pondered how the lover
    Wrongs the unanswering tomb,
    And sentimentalizes over
    What earned a better doom.

    Gently he tombs the poor dim last time,
    Strews pinkish dust above,
    And sighs, "The dear dead boyish pastime!
    But this -- - ah, God! -- - is Love!"

    -- Better oblivion hide dead true loves,
    Better the night enfold,
    Than men, to eke the praise of new loves,
    Should lie about the old!

                    * * * * *

    Oh! bitter thoughts I had in plenty.
    But here's the worst of it -- -
    I shall forget, in Nineteen-twenty,
    You ever hurt abit!

    Rupert Brooke

. The Jolly Company

    THE stars, a jolly company,
    I envied, straying late and lonely;
    And cried upon their revelry:
    "O white companionship! You only
    In love, in faith unbroken dwell,
    Friends radiant and inseparable!"

    Light-heart and glad they seemed to me
    And merry comrades (even so
    God out of heaven may laugh to see
    The happy crowds; and never know
    That in his lone obscure distress
    Each walketh in a wilderness).

    But I, remembering, pitied well
    And loved them, who, with lonely light,
    In empty infinite spaces dwell,
    Disconsolate. For, all the night,
    I heard the thin gnat-voices cry,
    Star to faint star, across the sky.

    Rupert Brooke

. The Life Beyond

    HE WAKES, who never thought to wake again,
    Who held the end was Death. He opens eyes
    Slowly, to one long livid oozing plain
    Closed down by the strange eyeless heavens. He lies;
    And waits; and once in timeless sick surmise
    Through the dead air heaves up an unknown hand,
    Like a dry branch. No life is in that land,
    Himself not lives, but is a thing that cries;
    An unmeaning point upon the mud; a speck
    Of moveless horror; an Immortal One
    Cleansed of the world, sentient and dead; a fly
    Fast-stuck in grey sweat on a corpse's neck.

    I thought when love for you died, I should die.
    It's dead. Alone, most strangely, I live on.

    Rupert Brooke

. Lines Written in the Belief That the Ancient Roman Festival of the Dead Was Called Ambarvalia

    SWINGS the way still by hollow and hill,
    And all the world's a song;
    "She's far," it sings me, "but fair," it rings me,
    "Quiet," it laughs, "and strong!"

    Oh! spite of the miles and years between us,
    Spite of your chosen part,
    I do remember; and I go
    With laughter in my heart.

    So above the little folk that know not,
    Out of the white hill-town,
    High up I clamber; and I remember;
    And watch the day go down.

    Gold is my heart, and the world's golden,
    And one peak tipped with light;
    And the air lies still about the hill
    With the first fear of night;

    Till mystery down the soundless valley
    Thunders, and dark is here;
    And the wind blows, and the light goes,
    And the night is full of fear,

    And I know, one night, on some far height,
    In the tongue I never knew,
    I yet shall hear the tidings clear
    From them that were friends of you.

    They'll call the news from hill to hill,
    Dark and uncomforted,
    Earth and sky and the winds; and I
    Shall know that you are dead.

    I shall not hear your trentals,
    Nor eat your arval bread;
    For the kin of you will surely do
    Their duty by the dead.

    Their little dull greasy eyes will water;
    They'll paw you, and gulp afresh.
    They'll sniffle and weep, and their thoughts will creep
    Like flies on the cold flesh.

    They will put pence on your grey eyes,
    Bind up your fallen chin,
    And lay you straight, the fools that loved you
    Because they were your kin.

    They will praise all the bad about you,
    And hush the good away,
    And wonder how they'll do without you,
    And then they'll go away.

    But quieter than one sleeping,
    And stranger than of old,
    You will not stir for weeping,
    You will not mind the cold;

    But through the night the lips will laugh not,
    The hands will be in place,
    And at length the hair be lying still
    About the quiet face.

    With snuffle and sniff and handkerchief,
    And dim and decorous mirth,
    With ham and sherry, they'll meet to bury
    The lordliest lass of earth.

    The little dead hearts will tramp ungrieving
    Behind lone-riding you,
    The heart so high, the heart so living,
    Heart that they never knew.

    I shall not hear your trentals,
    Nor eat your arval bread,
    Nor with smug breath tell lies of death
    To the unanswering dead.

    With snuffle and sniff and handkerchief,
    The folk who loved you not
    Will bury you, and go wondering
    Back home. And you will rot.

    But laughing and half-way up to heaven,
    With wind and hill and star,
    I yet shall keep, before I sleep,
    Your Ambarvalia.

    Rupert Brooke

. Dead Men's Love

    THERE was a damned successful Poet;
    There was a Woman like the Sun.
    And they were dead. They did not know it.
    They did not know their time was done.
               They did not know his hymns
               Were silence; and her limbs,
               That had served Love so well,
               Dust, and a filthy smell.

    And so one day, as ever of old,
    Hands out, they hurried, knee to knee;
    On fire to cling and kiss and hold
    And, in the other's eyes, to see
               Each his own tiny face,
               And in that long embrace
               Feel lip and breast grow warm
               To breast and lip and arm.

    So knee to knee they sped again,
    And laugh to laugh they ran, I'm told,
    Across the streets of Hell . . .
                                              And then
    They suddenly felt the wind blow cold,
               And knew, so closely pressed,
               Chill air on lip and breast,
               And, with a sick surprise,
               The emptiness of eyes.

    Rupert Brooke

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