A Summary and Analysis of Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Rupert Brooke wrote ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’ in May 1912, while he was staying in Germany. Before we offer a summary of the fifth verse paragraphs which make up the poem, you might want to read the poem first, and keep the tab containing the text of the poem in a separate window (we find this useful anyway, when reading about longer poems).

You can read ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’ here.

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A Short Analysis of Rupert Brooke’s ‘Heaven’

Rupert Brooke remains known for two poems: ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’, which offers a powerful vision of dreamy English life before the outbreak of the First World War; and ‘The Soldier’, a patriotic sonnet written shortly after the outbreak of the war. But although Brooke was not a prolific poet – he died while still in his twenties – he wrote more than these two anthology favourites. His poem ‘Heaven’ is another classic, although less famous, and deserves a few words of analysis devoted to its quietly satirical tone and clever use of metaphor.


Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat’ry noon)
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?

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A Short Analysis of Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Soldier’

By Dr Oliver Tearle

Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) is often considered a war poet, though he died early on in the First World War and never wrote about the gritty realities of fighting which Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg described, nor did he subject the mismanagement of the war to the trenchant analysis that later poets did. ‘The Soldier’ belongs to an earlier stage in the War, when people were overall more optimistic and patriotic: the poem was read aloud in St Paul’s Cathedral in Easter 1915, shortly before Brooke’s death. The poem captures the patriotic mood. Here, then, is ‘The Soldier’, with a little analysis of its meaning and its language.

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The Best Rupert Brooke Poems Everyone Should Read

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) is often known as a war poet, though he died early on during the conflict and didn’t live to see the sort of combat and conditions that later poets of the First World War, such as Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, experienced and wrote so powerfully about.

He also wrote notable poems before the outbreak of the War, and was associated with the ‘Georgian’ poets who named themselves – patriotically – after King George V, who came to the British throne in 1910. Here’s our pick of Brooke’s five best poems, which we think would provide a fine introduction to his work as a whole.

Follow the title of each poem to read the poem. We’ve arranged these in ascending order, ending with what we think is Brooke’s finest poem of all.

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Five Fascinating Facts about Rupert Brooke

Some quick facts about celebrated poet Rupert Brooke and his short but interesting life

2015 marks the centenary of Rupert Brooke’s death, so we thought we’d offer some interesting facts about the life of one of Britain’s most popular war poets.

1. Rupert Brooke once went skinny-dipping with Virginia Woolf. This happened in Cambridge, where Brooke (1887-1915) was a student. He had won a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge after writing a dissertation on Jacobean playwright John Webster and his debt to Elizabethan drama.

2. He was a huge influence on another celebrated war poet. Brooke was something of a hero to John Gillespie Magee, who would write one of the most famous poems of the Second World War, ‘High Flight‘. As well as that sonnet, Magee also wrote a ‘Sonnet to Rupert Brooke’. Magee also won the same poetry prize at Rugby School which Brooke had won some thirty years earlier.

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