(1887-1915 / Warwickshire / England)

Sonnet Xi: In Truth, Oh Love

In truth, oh Love, with what a boyish kind
Thou doest proceed in thy most serious ways:
That when the heav'n to thee his best displays,
Yet of that best thou leav'st the best behind.

For like a child that some fair book doth find,
With gilded leaves or colored vellum plays,
Or at the most on some find picture stays,
But never heeds the fruit of writer's mind:

So when thou saw'st in Nature's cabinet
Stella, thou straight lookst babies in her eyes,
In her cheek's pit thou didst thy pitfall set:

And in her breast bopeep or couching lies,
Playing and shining in each outward part:
But, fool, seekst not to get into her heart.

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Comments (11)

War like many things brings out the beauty as well as the ugliness of life. I think that these poems are refreshing in their positive outlook. Having been in military service myself and witnessed the destruction of friend and foe alike I feel justified in offering my comment here.
wonderful write..too deep...Kill me
According to what I have read, Brooke in fact saw action in the siege of Antwerp, a grim Allied defeat. While I agree with some of what Kevin Straw says, this is much the best of his five war sonnets in my opinion, and is free of the bs we find in the others, so I don't know why Straw has chosen this one to lambast. It merely commemorates the dead.
Brooke had no idea of war was like at the sharp end. He had a school boys view of it, much like that of the school boys in the film All Quiet On the Western Front. To gauge the worth of this nonsense compare Wilfred Owen’s “What passing bells for these who die as cattle…”. WWI was noble and glorious for nobody but the Grim Reaper. Stand Brooke in the trenches for a year with the stink of the rotting flesh of his comrades in his nose, and the rats crawling over his feet, and the ever-present prospect of death by sniper or barrage – let him charge uselessly across no man’s land into the certain death of the machine gun – and then let him write. The Duke of Wellington said: “Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.” Because a poem is well-written does not make it a good poem. A good poem communicates the truth – and this is not the truth.
Brooke had no idea of war was like at the sharp end. He had a school boys view of it, much like that of the school boys in the film All Quiet On the Western Front. To gauge the worth of this nonsense compare Wilfred Owen’s “What passing bells for these who die as cattle…”. WWI was noble and glorious for nobody but the Grim Reaper. Stand Brooke in the trenches for a year with the stink of the rotting flesh of his comrades in his nose, and the rats crawling over his feet, and the ever-present prospect of death by sniper or barrage – let him charge uselessly across no man’s land into the certain death of the machine gun – and then let him write. The Duke of Wellington said: “Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.” Because a poem is well-written does not make it a good poem. A good poem communicates the truth – and this is not the truth.
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