Nancy Gish and Carrol Cox (in that order):
> > The poem is "In Distrust of Merits" and although it does have lines that
> > could be read as in support of the need to fight, it is about as far
> > Rupert Brook's sentimentality as it could be.
> I agree. Part of my point was that in 1914 Brook's sentimentality could,
> apparently, be taken seriously by a literate public. The Great War made
> that impossible any longer.
Brooke's poetry has certainly become a fat target for the reaction against
patriotic idealism. Unfortunately, his poetic merits get dismissed along
with his political naivety.
I'm not suggesting that Brooke was a poetic giant, but if 'The Soldier' is
so significant, it's also because it is actually fairly accomplished. Pause
a moment to consider its music, cadences, images. There are lines in that
poem that can obviously stick in the memory - or they could if the politics
they support hadn't been so discredited. But countless patriotic poems have
now been consigned to oblivion. Why is it that so many people still know
'The Soldier'? Is it simply because of the legend that grew around Brooke
after his death? Or is it because (pace Nancy) he wasn't such a 'bad poet'?
'In Distrust of Merits' obviously expresses views that appear more
intelligent - but is it a such a better _poem_?
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