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Posts Tagged ‘The Soldier by Rupert Brooke’

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I believe that one of the hardest things to do is to write a letter of condolence. What do you say? What if the death happened a month ago and you just now heard? What do you write?

There are snippets of letters in Great Grandmother’s collection, but I have chosen to share only two of them.  The other items are almost irrelevant in nature, or clipped to omit much of the rest of the letter. What follows below are the most complete letters, and the ones that somehow resonate more deeply as to his character and person.

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The Western Union Telegram came from the President of the University of Oregon immediately upon the news. It is incorrectly addressed to D.G. Melrose (Philip G. Melrose was Dale’s father). It is dated Dec 20- 1917.

HAVE JUST RECEIVED THROUGH DR EBERLY KUYKENDALL OF CAMP LEWIS SAID (sic)NEWS YOUR GREAT LOSS IN         DEATH OF YOUR SON          UNIVERSITY EXTENDS HEARTFELT SYMPATHY AND SHARES YOUR SORROW YOUR SON MADE MANY WARM FRIENDS WAS      UNIVERSALLY RESPECTED PLEASE WIRE IS WE CAN BE OF ANY SERVICE

P.L. CAMPBELL

PRES UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

740A

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Newberg Oreg. Jan Dec 27 – 1917

Dear Mrs. Melrose

      It was with great surprise and the deepest sorrow that we learned of Dale’s death last week and I am writing this to convey the most heartfelt sympathy both from myself and the young people of the church and Sunday school. I was proud to count Dale as one of my friends and as I was for some time his Sunday school teacher, I felt a particular attachment and interest in him. I thought possibly it might be some consolation to your in your great sorrow and gried to know how much Dale was loved and respected here in Newberg. I have heard so many tributes to his splendid character, and his unusually high standard as a student both here and at Eugene. You, as his mother, can certainly feel proud of his record, And especially of his last service as a volunteer when he gave his life for his country. –With deepest sympathy to your self and Mr. Melrose. I am Very sincerely yours – Jessie E Britt.

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Penciled on the back of the envelope of this letter are these words: Mildred Brown’s letter after hearing of Dale’s letter.

Mildred was the daughter of “Uncle Harry”, one of Mary Brown Melrose’s four brothers (“Aunt Anne” was Mary’s sister)

Mildred, as you may recall, was attending the University of Oregon with Dale.

The letter is postmarked January 10, 1918:

Dear Aunt Mary and Uncle Phil,

Please forgive my long delay in writing to you. I have been so shaken that it has taken me a long time to regain a normal composure.

But I want you to know a little of how much Dale was admired and respected here on the campus. He won for himself a place in the hearts of his comrades and fellows much to be envied by those less fortunate. His instructors held him in highest esteem. It is no small matter to have gained the marks in one’s work that Dale won. He was a shark in everything and was taking honors in four different subjects. After having had six weeks of French he was teaching it at Camp Lewis.

You should be very proud of having been able to give such a sou. That he should have been compelled to make the greatest sacrifice but adds to the splendor of what he has achieved. Had he been unwilling to make the sacrifice, had he hesitated an instant (?) his duty, then you might feel differently. But he was ready, eager to do his best and give his all if need be. I think that nothing has ever shown us what splendour there is in the soulds of men as this war has done. Had it never been we should have missed one of the finestspectacles it has ever been the privilege of mankind to see. I do not say that it isn’t awful and full of the most heartrending pain as well – but never before have men revealed the heights to which their sould can attain. In the manner in which men are giving up their lives for an ideal, there could be nothing more magnificent. One English boy who died in the eastern campaign phrased his feeling thus:

“If I should die think only this of we

That there’s some corner in a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed-

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware.

Gave once her ways to roam flowers to love, her ways to roam

A body of England’s breathing English air,

Washed by rivers, blessed by — of home.”

There is more to it but I don’t remember it.

~~~~~~

She ends her letter there, unsigned.

The full poem follows this last image of Dale’s headstone.

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The Soldier

Rupert Brooke, 18871915

If I should die, think only this of me:
   That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.  There shall be
   In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
   Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
   Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
   A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
     Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
     In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

 

 

 

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