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 the 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.
Rupert Brooke (1887 – 1915)
The Soldier was published in May 1915 as part of the collection 1914 & Other Poems.
JERUSALEM (from ‘Milton’)
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
American poet and journalist Walt Whitman learned the printing trade as an apprentice on the Long Island Patriot. (1831-2) Later he became the editor of a weekly newspaper the Long Islander. (1838-9)
In 1841 he moved to New York to work as a compositor on The New World. Also contributed to Aurora, Evening Tattler, Statesman, and various other New York publications. Founded Brooklyn-based Weekly Freeman in 1848. The first edition of Leaves of Grass (poetry collection) was published in 1855. During the American Civil War he was a part-time clerk in the Army.
By 1865 he was working at the Indian Bureau at the Department of the Interior but he was fired for publishing “obscene poetry”. However, he was feted by many writers of the time including Swinburne and Tennyson. He suffered a stroke in 1873 and moved in with his brother George and was ill for several years after.
In 1882 he was visited by Oscar Wilde. The same year his anthology Leaves of Grass was withdrawn after complaints in Boston but sales mushroomed in other parts of the USA as a result.
In 1888 he had another stroke and was severely ill. It was around this time that his Calamus series of poems was declared to have homosexual overtones but Whitman denied the claim. He died in 1892.
From Spontaneous Me
The hairy wild-bee that murmurs and hankers up and down—
that gripes the full-grown lady-flower, curves upon her with amorous firm legs, takes his will of her, and holds himself tremulous and tight till he is satisfied.
Extract from Song of Myself
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.