In the summary of The Great Lover by Rupert Brooke, love as a theme blossoms as the poet depicts his journey through the course of his life. A poster boy for doomed youth, Rupert Brooke’s fame rests on his war poems which make him one of the finest poets in the history of English literature. Rupert Brooke has often been the center of criticism owing to his sentimental attitude towards war and war victims. However, that doesn’t come close to downsize his excellence as a master of words and feelings pen pictured thoroughly through his poems like The Great Lover.
The theme of The Great Lover is love and the poet takes a sentimental stance to depict his role as a lover of one and all. The poet starts his poem by mentioning that he had been a great lover (I have been so great a lover: filled my days So proudly with the splendor) and that he has filled his days with the pride and splendor of love and how it has blossomed in his life and have affected him to the very core of his heart. (So proudly with the splendor of Love’s praise, The pain, the calm, and the astonishment, Desire illimitable, and still content)
He talks about all his fellow men who have failed miserably in their attempts to “cheat despair “ and every single emotion that controls the human heart that beckons love and peace at all costs. And all dear names men use, to cheat despair, For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear Our hearts at random down the dark of life. ) The poet says how dark human life is and everything that we do to alter all that is bad and evil is our own shortcoming of not being able to mold things in the way it should be. However, the poet says that his night has a shining star in it and that his role as a lover has made it possible for him to outshine all others.
Should he not crown them with immortal praise? Whom he had loved? Who had given him, dared with him his high secrets and in darkness knelt to see the innumerable; impossible to describe; godhead of delight. Love is a flame and both have beaconed the world’s night, a city that he imagined to be built and he would be the emperor just as they have taught the world to die. So it’s for their sake he loved before he went because it is love and it magnificence that keeps all loyalties young. The theme of The Great Lover speaks of all those love filled moments where he could write the names of all who have been loved in gold. He would write down the names of all those he has been in love with as eagles and crying flames and would put them up in a banner for the upcoming generation . Nothing would be able to erode them as the spinning wheel of time passes by.
The poet then goes on to speak about every single object and nature’s bounties that he has been in love with ad how they have formed an important part of life and helped him to become a better human being. He talks about wet roofs, wet roofs, beneath the lamplight; the strong crust of friendship bread and many tasting food”. He talks about the rainbows and bitter smoke of wood and radiant raindrops pouring right out of the blue sky. He speaks of the holes in the ground and the morning dew, the shining pool grass. Everything the poet has loved and has made it possible for him to come back to all these things as a better lover who would love them even more than before which makes it the idea of The Great Lover. The poet strongly believes in the goodness of love and the power and the strength that gives it to an individual and how strong it makes of him, strong enough to surpass death too. All that he has known to exist and love shall slowly fade away but he would always come back to all of them. Nothing remains forever and the poet is well aware of the mortality of these things that he is in love with. Once again, he shall thank the Lord for all the gifts of love that has showered on him and how it has made his life full of bliss, joy and happiness.
It’s Good to know:
- Brooke belonged to another literary group known as the Georgian Poets and was one of the most important of the Dymock poets, associated with the Gloucestershire village of Dymock where he spent some time before the war. He also lived in the Old Vicarage, Grantchester.
- While traveling in Europe he prepared a thesis entitled John Webster and the Elizabethan Drama, which won him a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, where he became a member of the Cambridge Apostles, helped found the Marlowe Society drama club and acted in plays including the Cambridge Greek Play.