by Rupert Brooke

the first of his sonnets in the 1914 sequence

Now, God be thanked Who has matched us1 with His hour, 
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping, 
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power, 
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping, 
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary, 
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move, 
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary, 
And all the little emptiness of love!2

Oh! we, who have known shame, we have found release3 there,
Where there's no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
Naught broken save4 this body, lost but breath; 
Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there 
But only agony, and that has ending; 
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.

1 matched us - made us suitable to take part in these thrilling times 
2 emptiness of love - Brooke was disillusioned with love. He had a stormy relationship with Katherine Cox which led to a nervous breakdown. Other relationships with young women were never lastingly satisfactory. 
3 release  -  relief, a sense of freedom 
4 save  -  except 

All of Brooke's war sonnets appear in both Out in the Dark and Minds at War. Only Out in the Dark has basic notes. 



Rupert Brooke - Rise to fame as a war poet

Rupert Brooke - Reaction to war

Brief life of Rupert Brooke

More about Minds at War

More about Out in the Dark

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