Rupert Brooke : Literary contribution.

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      Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) left the world in a chariot of fire. A. C. Ward thus writes of him: "When Rupert Brooke died at Skyros in the Aegean Sea on April 17, 1915, he was canonised in the popular imagination, and by the influence of his personality rather than his poetry became a prominent figure in contemporary literature. In the stress of the early months of the First World War the nation needed a human symbol to keep attention fixed upon the professed idealistic aims for which it had been let into the battle. After eight months such a symbol was found in the dead poet, Rupert Brooke - remembered, not as figure of death but as he was while alive: young, quick, eager, 'a young Apollo, golden-haired'.

Rupert Brooke is the romancer of the ordinary and the familiar and has invested his domestic catalogue with significance and beauty.
Rupert Brooke

      Rupert Brooke's early death on war-service, his physical beauty, his intellectual gifts, his genius for friendship these were accepted as a marks of one who seemed to have everything that is worth having'. So with little reference to his merits as a poet Brooke became a sign and symbol of his age even as, three centuries earlier, another handsome and accomplished young Englishman, Sir Philip Sidney, had become a sign and symbol of the Elizabethan." These words of the brilliant critic sum up the historical place of Rupert Brooke in the scene of contemporary poetry. It is a sad irony of fate that when the flush of contemporary popularity was dead, it had become a fashion with the rising generation to decry him as extravagantly romantic.

      Today it has been possible to appraise him correctly and see him in the proper perspective. In the revival of Georgian poetry Brooke undoubtedly played a significant part. He had headed a revolt against the romanticism of the decadent poets of the 'nineties'. He brought in a fresh breath of air, clarity, naturalness and idealism into the hot-house atmosphere of the decadent poetry. His acute sensitiveness to beauty made him discover beauty in the commonplace things, which the earlier men passed by. He had turned them into something enchantingly new. In the poem, The Great Lover, he gives an inventory of a thousand things - cups, plates, wet roofs, blankets, etc., which are the objects of his love, because they are beautiful.

      Thus Rupert Brooke is the romancer of the ordinary and the familiar and has invested his domestic catalogue with significance and beauty. His five war sonnets are in the same idealistic and romantic vein. He glorifies the war and the soldier who falls in the mouth of the cannon. Brooke's war poem The Soldier celebrates the patriotic self-sacrifice of an English soldier. Like the Elizabethan's he has sung of the joy of life, the glory of youth, the beauty of the earth, though his note has been mingled with a sceptical cynicism and a sense of uncertainty of life, that were in the air in the Pre-war England. The melody of his versification is matchless. His delicate ears had caught the cadence of the familiar words of everyday conversation and turned it to fine poetic use. In this he reminds one of Swinburne. He reminds one of Shelley, too, by his idealisation of love and beauty and hatred of conventions. All these marks of greatness prove that Brooke was a poet of high promises. But his actual output is very slight and quite natural. He was cut off by the war when his genius was just budding. It is difficult to predict what he might have been, if his life were spared. As it is, he is an "inheritor of unfulfilled renown" like Keats and Shelley.

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