Grave of Rupert Brooke on the Greek island of Skyros (Image: Public Domain Wikipedia)

100 Years Ago Today: the death of the English poet Rupert Brooke

Posted on centenarynews.com on 23 April 2015
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The British poet Rupert Brooke died on his way to Gallipoli 100 years ago on April 23rd 1915. The poet is well known in the UK – mainly for his sonnet ‘The Solider’. This article on his death has been written by Centenary News writer Catharine Driver:

Rupert Brooke was the first of the well-known ‘war poets’ to die during the war. His posthumous reputation rests on a mere five war sonnets written in 1914 after a couple of days in action during the retreat from Antwerp.

Brooke was a significant literary figure of his time: a fellow of Kings College Cambridge; ‘Georgian’ poet; critic, dramatist, travel writer and essayist; yet now he is mainly remembered for a single sonnet, ‘The Soldier’.

The most famous lines from the sonnet are:

"If I should die, think only this of me:

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England."

Brooke died of septicemia caused by an infected mosquito bite whilst on a troop ship in the Aegean Sea heading for Gallipoli.

His friends buried him the next day in an olive grove on the island of Skyros. The following poem fragment was found with his belongings. It foreshadows his death and those of his comrades, several of whom fell at Gallipoli a few days later

Poem Fragment:

"I strayed about the deck, an hour, to-night

Under a cloudy moonless sky; and peeped

In at the windows, watched my friends at table,

Or playing cards, or standing in the doorway,

Or coming out into the darkness. Still

No one could see me."

As Brooke’s biographer Christopher Hassall says: “On the day his loss was reported in the Cambridge Review his name was only one of sixty six dead and forty two wounded. It was the beginning of the end of a generation.”

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Other Centenary News coverage:

Centenary News Feature: “If I should die think only this of me": the death of Rupert Brooke. Read the article by journalist Peter Biles whose grandfather, Harry Biles, was part of the group that went ashore to bury Brooke.

Centenary News Book Review: "Latest Book Review - Forever England: The Life of Rupert Brooke". Read the book review

Event News: Rupert Brooke exhibition opens in Skyros, Greece. Read about the exhibition

For more information about Rupert Brooke, visit the Rupert Brooke Society website: www.rupertbrooke.com. The website has coverage of the event held on Skyros on April 23rd 2015 to mark the poet's death.

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Centenary News Update - Friday 24th April

The following photo has been sent to Centenary News showing the British ambassador to Greece John Kittmer speaking at the grave of Rupert Brooke at the Skyros memorial ceremony.