*(Cafe des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)
From the website of the Poetry Foundation:
“Rupert Brooke (1887 – 1915) was already a famous writer when he enlisted within weeks of the outbreak of the First World War. Serving with the Royal Naval Division, he died of blood poisoning from an infected mosquito bite while travelling to Gallipoli in April 1915. Once described as “the handsomest young man in England”, after his death Brooke became a national symbol of the tragic wartime loss of a promising generation. Brooke’s most famous collection of poetry, 1914 & Other Poems, contained all five of his war sonnets, including ‘The Soldier’, and was first published in May 1915. Winston Churchill wrote Brooke’s obituary in The Times.
…Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
And sunset still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?