A man of great physical beauty by reputation, Rupert Brooke was born in Rugby, Warwickshire where he attended the local school. He then gained entry into King's College, Cambridge (1905-11) where he became a Fellow in 1912. He travelled extensively and wrote many travel letters for the 'Westminster Gazette', London (1912-13). At the start of the First World War in 1914, he was assigned to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He saw action at Antwerp which inspired the writing of five passionately patriotic sonnets, the last of them being The Soldier. He was at the height of his fame when he died during the war aged twenty-seven. He had been on his way to serve in the Dardanelles when he died of blood poisoning at Scyros and was buried there.
1914 V: 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.