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

. 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.

    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.

    Rupert Brooke

. Menelaus and Helen


    HOT through Troy's ruin Menelaus broke
    To Priam's palace, sword in hand, to sate
    On that adulterous whore a ten years' hate
    And a king's honour. Through red death, and smoke,
    And cries, and then by quieter ways he strode,
    Till the still innermost chamber fronted him.
    He swung his sword, and crashed into the dim
    Luxurious bower, flaming like a god.

    High sat white Helen, lonely and serene.
    He had not remembered that she was so fair,
    And that her neck curved down in such a way;
    And he felt tired. He flung the sword away,
    And kissed her feet, and knelt before her there,
    The perfect Knight before the perfect Queen.


    So far the poet. How should he behold
    That journey home, the long connubial years?
    He does not tell you how white Helen bears
    Child on legitimate child, becomes a scold,
    Haggard with virtue. Menelaus bold
    Waxed garrulous, and sacked a hundred Troys
    'Twixt noon and supper. And her golden voice
    Got shrill as he grew deafer. And both were old.

    Often he wonders why on earth he went
    Troyward, or why poor Paris ever came.
    Oft she weeps, gummy-eyed and impotent;
    Her dry shanks twitch at Paris' mumbled name.
    So Menelaus nagged; and Helen cried;
    And Paris slept on by Scamander side.

    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. . . .
    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.

    Rupert Brooke

. Jealousy

    WHEN I see you, who were so wise and cool,
    Gazing with silly sickness on that fool
    You've given your love to, your adoring hands
    Touch his so intimately that each understands,
    I know, most hidden things; and when I know
    Your holiest dreams yield to the stupid bow
    Of his red lips, and that the empty grace
    Of those strong legs and arms, that rosy face,
    Has beaten your heart to such a flame of love,
    That you have given him every touch and move,
    Wrinkle and secret of you, all your life,
    -- Oh! then I know I'm waiting, lover-wife,
    For the great time when love is at a close,
    And all its fruit's to watch the thickening nose
    And sweaty neck and dulling face and eye,
    That are yours, and you, most surely, till you die!
    Day after day you'll sit with him and note
    The greasier tie, the dingy wrinkling coat;
    As prettiness turns to pomp, and strength to fat,
    And love, love, love to habit!
                                And after that,
    When all that's fine in man is at an end,
    And you, that loved young life and clean, must tend
    A foul sick fumbling dribbling body and old,
    When his rare lips hang flabby and can't hold
    Slobber, and you're enduring that worst thing,
    Senility's queasy furtive love-making,
    And searching those dear eyes for human meaning,
    Propping the bald and helpless head, and cleaning
    A scrap that life's flung by, and love's forgotten, -- -
    Then you'll be tired; and passion dead and rotten;
    And he'll be dirty, dirty!
                                O lithe and free
    And lightfoot, that the poor heart cries to see,
    That's how I'll see your man and you! -- -

                                              But you
    -- Oh, when that time comes, you'll be dirty too!

    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 . . .
    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.

    Rupert Brooke

. The Charm

    IN DARKNESS the loud sea makes moan;
    And earth is shaken, and all evils creep
    About her ways.
                           Oh, now to know you sleep!
    Out of the whirling blinding moil, alone,
    Out of the slow grim fight,
    One thought to wing -- - to you, asleep,
    In some cool room that's open to the night
    Lying half-forward, breathing quietly,
    One white hand on the white
    Unrumpled sheet, and the ever-moving hair
    Quiet and still at length! . . .

    Your magic and your beauty and your strength,
    Like hills at noon or sunlight on a tree,
    Sleeping prevail in earth and air.

    In the sweet gloom above the brown and white
    Night benedictions hover; and the winds of night
    Move gently round the room, and watch you there.
    And through the dreadful hours
    The trees and waters and the hills have kept
    The sacred vigil while you slept,
    And lay a way of dew and flowers
    Where your feet, your morning feet, shall tread.
    And still the darkness ebbs about your bed.
    Quiet, and strange, and loving-kind, you sleep.
    And holy joy about the earth is shed;
    And holiness upon the deep.

    Rupert Brooke

. Finding

    FROM the candles and dumb shadows,
    And the house where love had died,
    I stole to the vast moonlight
    And the whispering life outside.
    But I found no lips of comfort,
    No home in the moon's light
    (I, little and lone and frightened
    In the unfriendly night),
    And no meaning in the voices. . . .
    Far over the lands and through
    The dark, beyond the ocean,
    I willed to think of you!
    For I knew, had you been with me
    I'd have known the words of night,
    Found peace of heart, gone gladly
    In comfort of that light.

    Oh! the wind with soft beguiling
    Would have stolen my thought away;
    And the night, subtly smiling,
    Came by the silver way;
    And the moon came down and danced to me,
    And her robe was white and flying;
    And trees bent their heads to me
    Mysteriously crying;
    And dead voices wept around me;
    And dead soft fingers thrilled;
    And the little gods whispered. . . .
                                              But ever
    Desperately I willed;
    Till all grew soft and far
    And silent . . .
                             And suddenly
    I found you white and radiant,
    Sleeping quietly,
    Far out through the tides of darkness.
    And I there in that great light
    Was alone no more, nor fearful;
    For there, in the homely night,
    Was no thought else that mattered,
    And nothing else was true,
    But the white fire of moonlight,
    And a white dream of you.

    Rupert Brooke

. Song

    "OH! LOVE," they said, "is King of Kings,
    And Triumph is his crown.
    Earth fades in flame before his wings,
    And Sun and Moon bow down." -- -
    But that, I knew, would never do;
    And Heaven is all too high.
    So whenever I meet a Queen, I said,
    I will not catch her eye.

    "Oh! Love," they said, and "Love," they said,
    "The gift of Love is this;
    A crown of thorns about thy head,
    And vinegar to thy kiss!" -- -
    But Tragedy is not for me;
    And I'm content to be gay.
    So whenever I spied a Tragic Lady,
    I went another way.

    And so I never feared to see
    You wander down the street,
    Or come across the fields to me
    On ordinary feet.
    For what they'd never told me of,
    And what I never knew;
    It was that all the time, my love,
    Love would be merely you.

    Rupert Brooke

. The Voice

    SAFE in the magic of my woods
    I lay, and watched the dying light.
    Faint in the pale high solitudes,
    And washed with rain and veiled by night,

    Silver and blue and green were showing.
    And the dark woods grew darker still;
    And birds were hushed; and peace was growing;
    And quietness crept up the hill;

    And no wind was blowing

    And I knew
    That this was the hour of knowing,
    And the night and the woods and you
    Were one together, and I should find
    Soon in the silence the hidden key
    Of all that had hurt and puzzled me -- -
    Why you were you, and the night was kind,
    And the woods were part of the heart of me.

    And there I waited breathlessly,
    Alone; and slowly the holy three,
    The three that I loved, together grew
    One, in the hour of knowing,
    Night, and the woods, and you -- ---

    And suddenly
    There was an uproar in my woods,

    The noise of a fool in mock distress,
    Crashing and laughing and blindly going,
    Of ignorant feet and a swishing dress,
    And a Voice profaning the solitudes.

    The spell was broken, the key denied me
    And at length your flat clear voice beside me
    Mouthed cheerful clear flat platitudes.

    You came and quacked beside me in the wood.
    You said, "The view from here is very good!"
    You said, "It's nice to be alone a bit!"
    And, "How the days are drawing out!" you said.
    You said, "The sunset's pretty, isn't it?"

                    * * * * *

    By God! I wish -- - I wish that you were dead!

    Rupert Brooke

. Dining-Room Tea

    WHEN you were there, and you, and you,
    Happiness crowned the night; I too,
    Laughing and looking, one of all,
    I watched the quivering lamplight fall
    On plate and flowers and pouring tea
    And cup and cloth; and they and we
    Flung all the dancing moments by
    With jest and glitter. Lip and eye
    Flashed on the glory, shone and cried,
    Improvident, unmemoried;
    And fitfully and like a flame
    The light of laughter went and came.
    Proud in their careless transience moved
    The changing faces that I loved.

    Till suddenly, and otherwhence,
    I looked upon your innocence.
    For lifted clear and still and strange
    From the dark woven flow of change
    Under a vast and starless sky
    I saw the immortal moment lie.
    One instant I, an instant, knew
    As God knows all. And it and you
    I, above Time, oh, blind! could see
    In witless immortality.
    I saw the marble cup; the tea,
    Hung on the air, an amber stream;
    I saw the fire's unglittering gleam,
    The painted flame, the frozen smoke.
    No more the flooding lamplight broke
    On flying eyes and lips and hair;
    But lay, but slept unbroken there,
    On stiller flesh, and body breathless,
    And lips and laughter stayed and deathless,
    And words on which no silence grew.
    Light was more alive than you.

    For suddenly, and otherwhence,
    I looked on your magnificence.
    I saw the stillness and the light,
    And you, august, immortal, white,
    Holy and strange; and every glint
    Posture and jest and thought and tint
    Freed from the mask of transiency,
    Triumphant in eternity,
    Immote, immortal.

                           Dazed at length
    Human eyes grew, mortal strength
    Wearied; and Time began to creep.
    Change closed about me like a sleep.
    Light glinted on the eyes I loved.
    The cup was filled. The bodies moved.
    The drifting petal came to ground.
    The laughter chimed its perfect round.
    The broken syllable was ended.
    And I, so certain and so friended,
    How could I cloud, or how distress,
    The heaven of your unconsciousness?
    Or shake at Time's sufficient spell,
    Stammering of lights unutterable?
    The eternal holiness of you,
    The timeless end, you never knew,
    The peace that lay, the light that shone.
    You never knew that I had gone
    A million miles away, and stayed
    A million years. The laughter played
    Unbroken round me; and the jest
    Flashed on. And we that knew the best
    Down wonderful hours grew happier yet.
    I sang at heart, and talked, and eat,
    And lived from laugh to laugh, I too,
    When you were there, and you, and you.

    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.

    Rupert Brooke

. A Channel Passage

    THE damned ship lurched and slithered. Quiet and quick
    My cold gorge rose; the long sea rolled; I knew
    I must think hard of something, or be sick;
    And could think hard of only one thing -- - you!
    You, you alone could hold my fancy ever!
    And with you memories come, sharp pain, and dole.
    Now there's a choice -- - heartache or tortured liver!
    A sea-sick body, or a you-sick soul!

    Do I forget you? Retchings twist and tie me,
    Old meat, good meals, brown gobbets, up I throw.
    Do I remember? Acrid return and slimy,
    The sobs and slobber of a last years woe.
    And still the sick ship rolls. 'Tis hard, I tell ye,
    To choose 'twixt love and nausea, heart and belly.

    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.

    Rupert Brooke

. Day and Night

    THROUGH my heart's palace Thoughts unnumbered throng;
    And there, most quiet and, as a child, most wise,
    High-throned you sit, and gracious. All day long
    Great Hopes gold-armoured, jester Fantasies,
    And pilgrim Dreams, and little beggar Sighs,
    Bow to your benediction, go their way.
    And the grave jewelled courtier Memories
    Worship and love and tend you, all the day.

    But when I sleep, and all my thoughts go straying,
    When the high session of the day is ended,
    And darkness comes; then, with the waning light,
    By lilied maidens on your way attended,
    Proud from the wonted throne, superbly swaying,
    You, like a queen, pass out into the night.

    Rupert Brooke

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