Thursday, 23 April 2015

Poet and would-be soldier

Today is not only St George's Day, but also a hundred years since the death of Rupert Brooke. This is the first of many centenaries of deaths of promising young men because of the Great War, but it is one of the more tantalising. His ODNB biography reveals easy academic ability, early fame as a poet, but also a conflicted sexual life. The career path of the musicians whose lives were cut short between 1914 and 1918 was clear but that of the poets less so. Most poets write their best stuff when young and, in any case, Brooke had a wide range of interests. I would see him, if he survived the war and the Spanish 'flu which followed as a potential "distinguished literary figure", travel writer or even politician.. He would also have come to terms with his sexualtiy in the brief period of social liberation after the war.

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