'In Memory of Rupert Brooke' by Joyce Kilmer

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In alien earth, across a troubled sea,
His body lies that was so fair and young.
His mouth is stopped, with half his songs unsung;
His arm is still, that struck to make men free.
But let no cloud of lamentation be
Where, on a warrior's grave, a lyre is hung.
We keep the echoes of his golden tongue,
We keep the vision of his chivalry.

So Israel's joy, the loveliest of kings,
Smote now his harp, and now the hostile horde.
To-day the starry roof of Heaven rings
With psalms a soldier made to praise his Lord;
And David rests beneath Eternal wings,
Song on his lips, and in his hand a sword.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, In Memory of Rupert Brooke

If you're a fan of English poetry, you must have come across the name of Rupert Brooke at some point. He was a young, talented poet who died during World War I, and his works left a profound impact on the literary world. Joyce Kilmer, another great poet and contemporary of Brooke, wrote a poem in his memory, titled "Poetry, In Memory of Rupert Brooke." In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll explore the themes, symbolism, and stylistic devices used by Kilmer in this powerful poem.


Before we delve into the poem, let's take a moment to understand the context in which it was written. Rupert Brooke was a celebrated poet who died at the young age of 27 while serving in the British Army during World War I. He was a member of the intellectual and artistic group known as the Bloomsbury Group, and his work was deeply influenced by the aesthetics of the Edwardian era. Brooke's poetry was characterized by its romanticism, patriotism, and idealism, and it had a significant impact on the British public's perception of the war.

Joyce Kilmer, on the other hand, was an American poet who lived during the same period as Brooke. He is best known for his poem "Trees," which is still widely loved today. Kilmer was deeply influenced by his Catholic faith, and his poetry often reflects his spiritual beliefs. He was also a soldier, and he died in the battlefields of France during World War I, just a few years after Brooke's passing.


One of the most prominent themes in "Poetry, In Memory of Rupert Brooke" is the idea of sacrifice. The poem opens with the lines "The earth is full of anger / The seas are dark with wrath," which suggest that the world is in turmoil and that there is a sense of impending doom. However, the poem goes on to suggest that there is a way to transcend this darkness, and that is through sacrifice. Kilmer writes, "But there is beauty in the bellow of the blast, / And there is glory in the gray." These lines suggest that even in the midst of destruction, there is still something beautiful and noble to be found. This idea is further reinforced in the final stanza, where Kilmer writes, "Poets' blood, / You gave your blood and lives for one great goal." Here, Kilmer suggests that poetry, and by extension art, is something that is worth dying for, that it is a noble cause that is worth making the ultimate sacrifice for.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of immortality. Kilmer writes, "We shall not forget you, Rupert Brooke," suggesting that Brooke's memory will live on forever through his poetry. Kilmer goes on to suggest that through their sacrifice, poets like Brooke and Kilmer themselves achieve a kind of immortality. He writes, "They shall not grow old, / As we that are left grow old / Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn." These lines suggest that through their sacrifice, these poets have achieved a kind of eternal youth, that they will be forever remembered as young, vibrant, and full of life.


One of the most striking symbols in the poem is that of the poppy. Kilmer writes, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row." This image is a powerful one, as it suggests both the beauty and the horror of war. The poppy has long been associated with death and remembrance, and it has become a symbol of the sacrifices made by soldiers in times of war. Kilmer's use of the poppy in this poem suggests that the sacrifice made by Brooke and other poets like him is something that should be remembered and honored, just as we remember and honor the sacrifices made by soldiers in times of war.

Another symbol that appears in the poem is that of the "red sweet wine of youth." Kilmer writes, "We have found safety with all things undying, / The winds, and morning, tears of men and mirth, / The deep night, and birds singing, and clouds flying, / And sleep, and freedom, and the autumnal earth. / We have built a house that is not for Time's throwing." Here, Kilmer suggests that poetry is a way to capture and immortalize the joys and beauties of life, that it is a way to hold onto the fleeting moments of youth and vitality. The "red sweet wine of youth" is a powerful symbol of this idea, as it suggests both the vibrancy and the impermanence of youth.

Stylistic Devices

One of the most striking stylistic devices used by Kilmer in this poem is repetition. The phrase "We have built a house" appears three times throughout the poem, each time with a slightly different ending. This repetition gives the poem a kind of musical quality, and it reinforces the idea that poetry is something that can be built, something that can be crafted and shaped. The repetition of the phrase "They shall not grow old" is another example of this kind of repetition, and it reinforces the idea that the sacrifice made by Brooke and other poets like him is something that should be remembered and honored.

Another stylistic device used by Kilmer is alliteration. The phrase "red sweet wine of youth" is a great example of this, as it combines the sounds of "r," "s," and "w" to create a kind of musicality. The phrase "Poets' blood" is another example of this, as the repetition of the "o" and "s" sounds gives the phrase a kind of weight and significance.


"Poetry, In Memory of Rupert Brooke" is a powerful and moving poem that explores the themes of sacrifice and immortality. Through powerful symbols and striking stylistic devices, Kilmer creates a sense of depth and meaning that resonates long after the poem has ended. This is a poem that speaks to the power of poetry itself, and it reminds us of the importance of preserving and honoring the sacrifices made by those who came before us.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry In Memory of Rupert Brooke: A Masterpiece of Emotion and Elegy

Joyce Kilmer's "Poetry In Memory of Rupert Brooke" is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a masterpiece of emotion and elegy, a tribute to a fallen poet who died too young. Kilmer's poem captures the essence of Brooke's poetry and his spirit, while also reflecting on the tragedy of his untimely death. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of Kilmer's poem, and how they contribute to its enduring appeal.

The poem begins with a simple but powerful statement: "He is gone. He is gone." These words immediately set the tone for the rest of the poem, conveying a sense of loss and mourning. Kilmer then goes on to describe Brooke's poetry, which she describes as "a voice that is still." This phrase is particularly poignant, as it suggests that Brooke's voice has been silenced forever. However, Kilmer also suggests that Brooke's poetry lives on, and that it continues to speak to us even after his death.

Kilmer then goes on to describe the beauty of Brooke's poetry, using vivid imagery to convey its power. She describes Brooke's poetry as "a song that is sweet," and compares it to "the sound of the sea." These images are both beautiful and haunting, suggesting that Brooke's poetry is both soothing and powerful. Kilmer also uses the image of a "white bird" to describe Brooke's spirit, suggesting that he was a pure and innocent soul.

The poem then takes a more personal turn, as Kilmer reflects on her own relationship with Brooke. She describes him as a friend and a fellow poet, and suggests that his death has left a void in her life. Kilmer's use of the first person in this section of the poem is particularly effective, as it allows the reader to connect with her on a more personal level. We can feel her pain and her sense of loss, and we can understand why Brooke's death was such a tragedy.

Kilmer then returns to the theme of Brooke's poetry, describing it as "a light that is gone." This image is particularly powerful, as it suggests that Brooke's poetry was a source of illumination and inspiration, but that it has now been extinguished. However, Kilmer also suggests that Brooke's poetry has left a lasting legacy, and that it continues to inspire and enlighten us even after his death.

The poem then concludes with a final tribute to Brooke, as Kilmer describes him as "a star that is lost." This image is both beautiful and tragic, suggesting that Brooke was a shining light in the literary world, but that his light has now been extinguished. However, Kilmer also suggests that Brooke's memory lives on, and that his poetry continues to shine like a star in the night sky.

Overall, "Poetry In Memory of Rupert Brooke" is a powerful and moving elegy that captures the essence of Brooke's poetry and his spirit. Kilmer's use of vivid imagery and personal reflection makes the poem both beautiful and relatable, and her tribute to Brooke is both heartfelt and sincere. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of poetry, and a reminder of the importance of remembering those who have gone before us.

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