Rupert Brooke ~ The Soldier Poet

Day 351 of Colourisation Project – April 23

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication. 

The Turks didn’t get him…a mosquito did.

English poet, Rupert Chawner Brooke, best known for his idealistic war sonnets, died this day, 23 April 1915, two days before the massive, ill-fated British-led invasion by Australian soldiers of the Gallipoli peninsula.

Brooke developed septicaemia from a mosquito bite and died in a French hospital ship off the island of Skyros, Greece, on his way to the landing at Gallipoli. He was 27 years old. His friends buried him under a stone cairn in an olive grove on Skryos. He still lays there today, “in some corner of a foreign field that is forever England,” although his mother arranged for a grander tomb after the war.

Rupert Brooke

Photographer Sherrill Schell : Rupert Brooke – Colourised by Loredana Crupi

Serving as an officer in the British Royal Navy, Brooke was stationed at Antwerp, where he was inspired to write 1914 & Other Poems, five unabashedly patriotic war sonnets, the last of them being The Soldier. Published after his death, Brooke’s sonnets were regarded as a barometer of England between 1910 and 1915 capturing the mood of the moment –the hopeful idealism with which Britain entered the war.

That mood quickly changed after the devastatingly high number of deaths incurred by the English during the trench warfare of 1916 and 1917.

Reprinted for you below, Brooke’s sonnet seems to look upon a soldier’s death as an opportunity to make a noble sacrifice by dying for one’s country.

Only six weeks after Rupert Brooke’s death, his brother, William, had that opportunity when he was killed in action in France on 14 June 1915. He was only 24.

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.


“The thoughts to which he gave expression in the very few incomparable war sonnets which he has left behind, wrote, will be shared by many thousands of young men moving resolutely and blithely forward in this, the hardest, the cruelest, and the least-rewarded of all the wars that men have fought.

…He was all that one would wish England’s noblest sons to be in the days when no sacrifice but the most precious is acceptable, and the most precious is that which is most freely proffered.”       

                              –Winston Churchill ~ Rupert Brooke’s obituary in The Times, April 1915

This entry was posted in Australia, Britain, Colorization, Colourisation, History, Opus Loredana, Photography, Poetry, World War 1 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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