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I said I splendidly loved you; it's not true

by Rupert Brooke

Analysed by Bryn Fortey and Read by Chris Williams

                                    I said I splendidly loved you; it's not true.

                                      Such long swift tides stir not a land-locked sea.
                                   On gods or fools the high risk falls - on you -
                                      The clean clear bitter-sweet that's not for me.
                                   Love soars from earth to ecstasies unwist.
                                      Love is flung Lucifer-like from Heaven to Hell.
                                   But - there are wanderers in the middle mist,
                                      Who cry for shadows, clutch, and cannot tell
                                   Whether they love at all, or, loving, whom:
                                      An old song's lady, a fool in fancy dress,
                                   Or phantoms, or their own face on the gloom;
                                      For love of Love, or from heart's loneliness.
                                   Pleasure's not theirs, no pain. They doubt, and sigh,
                                   And do not love at all. Of these am I.

Click HERE for Chris's reading.

Let's make one thing clear from the beginning : by and large I find very little to interest me in the work of the Old Masters, neither poetry nor prose. I tend more towards minimalism - if you can say something in ten words, why use a hundred? My main interests are from the Beats forward. Another pointer is that as a rule I do not get on too well with pastoral verse. Thirty-five lines on the beauty of a buttercup, and I tend to turn the page quickly. So why am I on a site covering Antique Poems? Because a friend insisted I read Rupert Brooke (1888 - 1915) and I found a writer very much before his time.

John Drinkwater said, in an article for the 'Contemporary Review', December 1915 : '(his work) shows, finally, not always but often, an indifference to the normal material upon which poets good and bad are apt to work...'

As far as I can see, Brooke was not very interested in wandering clouds, and if he hung around churchyards it would probably be because he saw it as a possible site for seduction. If we are to believe his poems, he was a young man with a young man's needs, and was quite prepared to lie to get his way. The first line of this particular sonnet sums up this attitude. In the poem 'Success', he wants his : '...wild sick blasphemous prayer granted'.In 'The One Before The Last' he tells us that though love can hurt at the time, it's a pain that is soon forgotten. But getting back to my chosen poem, not only does he admit to deceit but ends with an admission that he doesn't know real love at all.

In spite of my opening remarks, the Bard of Avon is one of my all time favourites, but old Will always seems to me to be a modern day writer who has thrown in some 'thees and thous' to make us think his work dates back. Rupert Brooke strikes me in a similar fashion. His work shows a clinical deftness surprising in one so young, especially with hormones running riot! And to think he died at twenty-seven! What poetry he might have written, had he lived.

I Said I Spendidly Loved You - Read by Chris Williams
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