Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Hill by Rupert Brooke 1887 - 1915

Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, "Though 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 suddenly you cried, and turned away.

Welcome back to Tuesday Poem after our summer break. This poem is one of my favourite in the world - with that first line - we too are breathless and flung. The brave language. The stuff of youth. The realisation that it ends and perhaps too soon ... added to by our knowing Brooke himself died young during WWI.

I am near the end of Pat Barker's novel Toby's Room and have Harry Rickett's Strange Meetings lined up after that. Both about WWI soldiers/poets/artists. A coincidence, the two books - but I am well and truly submerged in this sad, aching, brave, terrible world.

Please do take a minute to go to the Tuesday Poem hub to read a poem by David Howard and the questions  a group of poets pose him. Wonderful post by Claire Beynon, my TP co-curator, whose enthusiasm for poetry and art and life leaves me breathless. Read on!


Jennifer Compton said...

oh i didn't know this one! have you read The Stranger's Child by Hollinghurst yet? Rupert Brooke sightings.

Mary McCallum said...

Jen, yes. The Stranger's Child - fantastic book. A really fin de siecle book - is that the right word? - the end of a way of life, a time.. I think he achieves that wonderfully - his book is a bigger one than Barker's in many ways - almost too big in its scope - those massive skips in time.... The writing is so much more fluid and appealing including the wonderful way he gives life to inanimate objects like houses - BUT Barker's writing about the traumatised WWI soldier (the area she's marked out for herself) is a real achievement - the ghastly wounds, internal and external, the way they are put back together again... images I can't lose from my mind at the moment including a scene when a wounded soldier wears a mask of Rupert Brooke.

Helen Rickerby said...

I feel I must have read this before, Mary, because there are echoes in my head, but it's the first time I've really paid attention. So full of life, and of a kind of hubris, and so, tragedy.

lillyanne said...

Achingly sad. We've recently seen a brilliant play about Edward Thomas and so WW1 is very much back in my mind. And what a brilliant last line.

Helen McKinlay said...

Yes... if only they had known the futility of it all. Perhaps they did.
'Life burns on through other lovers.' They would probably have done it anyway. So many beautiful young men...