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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Poetry Friday--"Heaven"

Rupert Brooke, poet, was one of the casualties of World War I (he died, not in action, but as a result of an infected mosquito bite while traveling with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force). Brooke is remembered to this day for his war poems, however, on this June day, I'd like to share a light-hearted poem found in The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke [821 BRO]. (Our copy is from 1943!)

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?
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.
We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not Wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud!--Death eddies near--
Not here the appointed End, not here!
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;
And under that Almighty Fin,
The littlest fish may enter in.
Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there,
And mud, celestially fair;
Fat caterpillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.
And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.

I love the word choice--"Purpose in liquidity," "wetter water, slimier slime," "Squamous, omnipotent, and kind" "Paradisal grubs."

Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link--be sure to stop by!


  1. What a fabulous poem! I hadn't read it before, and I love all the same parts you do. It turns our notion of heaven on its head. I love it!

    1. The humor is totally surprising after the emphatic title, "Heaven."

  2. My copy of that book is also from 1943 - I just checked to make sure. It was a gift from a beloved teacher in high school. I hadn't read this poem in years, and I love it. Thank you!

    1. It's truly amazing that we have a book that old on our shelves, especially at a time when the majority of our customers seem to want only the bestsellers.

  3. Okay the cyber bug is doing it again to me. Second try with a comment.

    Diane, as I was reading the poem I was intrigued by Brooke's stunning use of language and then I saw your after-poem thought-Word Choice: YES! I was speaking with administrators today about the missing ingredient in close reading is language. If we do not teach our students to love and appreciate words then they will miss the experience of synthesizing the central idea of a piece. Thank you for this find. I have bookmarked the poem for a future PD session.

  4. He reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch a little. Something about his eyes and expression. Great rhythm in this poem... "Unfading moths, immortal flies,/
    And the worm that never dies."