On this date in 1887, the English poet Rupert Brooke was born in Rugby, Warwickshire, England.  He is perhaps best known for his poem, The Soldier, which is the writing for today.  The poem was published in 1914, just as World War I was beginning.  Brooke himself was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a temporary Sub-Lieutenant, participating in the Royal Naval Division’s Antwerp expedition in October 1914. In the winter of 1915, he was part of the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force headed for Gallipoli, where, presumably, he would have participated in that famous campaign of the Great War, but he didn’t survive to do so. He developed sepsis from an infected mosquito bite and died on April 23, 1915 on board the Duguay-Trouin, a French hospital ship moored off the Greek island of Skyros in the Aegean Sea.  With the expeditionary force scheduled to depart immediately for its mission, Brooke was buried in an olive grove on Skyros.  Thus, his now famous poem gained a personal application, making it all the more meaningful to us today.

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
      That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever 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.