Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
Rupert Brooke. 1887–1915
147. The Great Lover
I HAVE been so great a lover: filled my days 
So proudly with the splendour of Love's praise, 
The pain, the calm, and the astonishment, 
Desire illimitable, and still content, 
And all dear names men use, to cheat despair,         5
For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear 
Our hearts at random down the dark of life. 
Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife 
Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far, 
My night shall be remembered for a star  10
That outshone all the suns of all men's days. 
Shall I not crown them with immortal praise 
Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me 
High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see 
The inenarrable godhead of delight?  15
Love is a flame;—we have beaconed the world's night. 
A city:—and we have built it, these and I. 
An emperor:—we have taught the world to die. 
So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence, 
And the high cause of Love's magnificence,  20
And to keep loyalties young, I'll write those names 
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames, 
And set them as a banner, that men may know, 
To dare the generations, burn, and blow 
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming....  25
These I have loved: 
      White plates and cups, clean-gleaming, 
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust; 
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust 
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;  30
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood; 
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers; 
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours, 
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon; 
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon  35
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss 
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is 
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen 
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine; 
The benison of hot water; furs to touch;  40
The good smell of old clothes; and other such— 
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers, 
Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers 
About dead leaves and last year's ferns....
                                    Dear names,
And thousand others throng to me! Royal flames;  45
Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring; 
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing: 
Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain, 
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train; 
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam  50
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home; 
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold 
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould; 
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew; 
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;  55
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;— 
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass. 
Whatever passes not, in the great hour, 
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power 
To hold them with me through the gate of Death.  60
They'll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath, 
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love's trust 
And sacramented covenant to the dust. 
—Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake, 
And give what's left of love again, and make  65
New friends, now strangers....
                  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.
                  Nothing remains.
O dear my loves, O faithless, once again  70
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." 

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