Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Rupert Brooke

English Poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War

"The worst of slaves is he whom passion rules."

"The Call - Out of the nothingness of sleep, The slow dreams of Eternity, There was a thunder on the deep: I came, because you called to me. I broke the Night's primeval bars, I dared the old abysmal curse, And flashed through ranks of frightened stars Suddenly on the universe! The eternal silences were broken; Hell became Heaven as I passed. -- What shall I give you as a token, A sign that we have met, at last? I'll break and forge the stars anew, Shatter the heavens with a song; Immortal in my love for you, Because I love you, very strong. Your mouth shall mock the old and wise, Your laugh shall fill the world with flame, I'll write upon the shrinking skies The scarlet splendour of your name, Till Heaven cracks, and Hell thereunder Dies in her ultimate mad fire, And darkness falls, with scornful thunder, On dreams of men and men's desire. Then only in the empty spaces, Death, walking very silently, Shall fear the glory of our faces Through all the dark infinity. So, clothed about with perfect love, The eternal end shall find us one, Alone above the Night, above The dust of the dead gods, alone."

"Failure - Because God put His adamantine fate Between my sullen heart and its desire, I swore that I would burst the Iron Gate, Rise up, and curse Him on His throne of fire. Earth shuddered at my crown of blasphemy, But Love was as a flame about my feet; Proud up the Golden Stair I strode; and beat Thrice on the Gate, and entered with a cry -- All the great courts were quiet in the sun, And full of vacant echoes: moss had grown Over the glassy pavement, and begun To creep within the dusty council-halls. An idle wind blew round an empty throne And stirred the heavy curtains on the walls."

"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, nor pain. They doubt, and sigh, And do not love at all. Of these am I"

"The Old Vicarage, Grantchester - Ah God! to see the branches stir Across the moon at Grantchester! To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten Unforgettable, unforgotten River-smell, and hear the breeze Sobbing in the little trees. Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand Still guardians of that holy land? The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream, The yet unacademic stream Is dawn a secret shy and cold Anadyomene, silver-gold? And sunset still a golden sea From Haslingfield to Madingley? And after, ere the night is born, Do hares come out about the corn? Oh, is the water sweet and cool, Gentle and brown, above the pool? And laughs the immortal river still Under the mill, under the mill? Say, is there Beauty yet to find? And Certainty? and Quiet kind? Deep meadows yet, for to forget The lies, and truths, and pain?… oh! yet Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?"

"That night, how could I sleep? I lay and watched the lonely gloom; And watched the moonlight creep From wall to basin, round the room. All night I could not sleep."

"Infinite hungers leap no more In the chance swaying of your dress; And love has changed to kindliness."

"The pain, the calm, and the astonishment, Desire illimitable, and still content, And all dear names men use, to cheat despair."

"But only agony, and that has ending; And the worst friend and enemy is but Death."

"Nothing remains. O dear my loves, O faithless, once again This one last gift I give: that after men Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed Praise you, "All these were lovely"; say, "He loved.""

"The women there do all they ought; The men observe the Rules of Thought; They love the Good; they worship Truth; They laugh uproariously in youth; (And when they get to feeling old, They up and shoot themselves, I'm told). "

"But the best I've known Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown About the winds of the world, and fades from brains Of living men, and dies."

"A book may be compared to your neighbor; if it be good, it cannot last too long; if bad, you cannot get rid of it too early."

"A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years."

"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."

"All the little emptiness of love."

"Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead! There's none of these so lonely and poor of old, But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold. These laid the world away: poured out the red Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be of work and joy, and that unhoped serene that men call age, and those who would have been Their sons, they gave their immortality."

"Breathless, we flung us on a windy hill, / Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass."

"But somewhere, beyond space and time, is wetter water, slimier slime and there (they trust) there swimmeth one, who swam ere rivers were begun. Immense, of fishy form and mind, squamous, omnipotent, and kind."

"But there's a wisdom in women, of more than they have known, and thoughts go blowing through them, are wiser than their own."

"Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night."

"Fish say, they have their stream and pond; but is there anything beyond?"

"I shall desire and I shall find the best of my desires; the autumn road, the mellow wind that soothes the darkening shires. And laughter, and inn-fires."

"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 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."

"Incredibly, inordinately, devastatingly, immortally, calamitously, hearteningly, adorably beautiful."

"Now, God be thanked who has matched us with His hour, And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping."

"Oh Death will find me long before I tire Of watching you and swing me suddenly Into the shade and loneliness and mire Of the last land"

"Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear, each secret fishy hope or fear. Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond; but is there anything beyond? This life cannot be all, they swear, for how unpleasant, if it were! One may not doubt that, somehow, Good Shall come of Water and of Mud; And, sure, the reverent eye must see a Purpose in Liquidity."

"Proud, then, clear-eyed and laughing, go to greet Death as a friend!"

"Spend in pure converse our eternal day; Think each in each, immediately wise; Learn all we lacked before; hear, know, and say What this tumultuous body now denies; And feel, who have laid our groping hands away; And see, no longer blinded by our eyes."

"There's little comfort in the wise."

"They love the Good they worship Truth They laugh uproariously in youth (And when they get to feeling old, they up and shoot themselves, I'm told)."

"They say that the Dead die not, but remain near to the rich heirs of their grief and mirth. I think they ride the calm mid-heaven, as these, in wise majestic melancholy train, and watch the moon, and the still-raging seas, and men, coming and going on the earth."

"War knows no power. Safe shall be my going, Secretly armed against all death's endeavor Safe though all safety's lost safe where men fall And if these poor limbs die, safest of all."

"We always love those who admire us; we do not always love those whom we admire."

"When the Man waked up he said, 'What is Wild Dog doing here' And the Woman said 'His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'"

"Yet, behind the night, waits for the great unborn, somewhere afar, Some white tremendous daybreak."

"You gave me the key of your heart, my love; then why did you make me knock?"

"Youth is stranger than fiction."

"Ah God! To see the branches stir across the moon at Grantchester! To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten unforgettable, unforgotten river-smell, and hear the breeze sobbing in the little trees. Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand still guardians of that holy land? The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream, the yet unacademic stream is dawn a secret shy and cold anadyomene, silver-gold?"

"A young Apollo, golden-haired, stands dreaming on the verge of strife, magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life."

"All the day I held the memory of you, and wove its laughter with the dancing light o' the spray, and sowed the sky with tiny clouds of love."

"And I shall find some girl perhaps, and a better one than you, With eyes as wise, but kindlier, And lips as soft, but true, And I daresay she will do."

"And in my flower-beds, I think, smile the carnation and the pink."

"And light on waving grass, he knows not when, and feet that ran, but where, he cannot tell? And feel, who have laid our groping hands away; and see, no longer blinded by our eyes, in wise majestic melancholy train? and evening hush broken by homing wings."

"And see, no longer blinded by our eyes."

"Because God put His adamantine fate between my sullen heart and its desire, I swore that I would burst the Iron Gate, rise up, and curse Him on His throne of fire. Earth shuddered at my crown of blasphemy, but Love was as a flame about my feet; proud up the Golden Stair I strode; and beat thrice on the Gate, and entered with a cry ? All the great courts were quiet in the sun, and full of vacant echoes: moss had grown over the glassy pavement, and begun to creep within the dusty council-halls. An idle wind blew round an empty throne and stirred the heavy curtains on the walls"

"Dear! of all happy in the hour, most blest he who has found our hid security, assured in the dark tides of the world that rest, and heard our word, 'Who is so safe as we?' 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."

"For Cambridge people rarely smile, Being urban, squat, and packed with guile."

"He wakes, who never thought to wake again, who held the end was Death. He opens eyes slowly, to one long livid oozing plain closed down by the strange eyeless heavens. He lies; and waits; and once in timeless sick surmise through the dead air heaves up an unknown hand, like a dry branch. No life is in that land, himself not lives, but is a thing that cries; an unmeaning point upon the mud; a speck of moveless horror; an Immortal One cleansed of the world, sentient and dead; a fly fast-stuck in grey sweat on a corpse's neck. I thought when love for you died, I should die. It's dead. Alone, most strangely, I live on."