Red Wine of Youth: A Life of Rupert Brooke

Red Wine of Youth: A Life of Rupert Brooke

Red Wine of Youth: A Life of Rupert Brooke

Red Wine of Youth: A Life of Rupert Brooke

Excerpt

A CHINA-BUILT junk, with three torn bat-wing sails above her hull of carved and lacquered teakwood, went down in the storm-lashed wastes of the mid-Pacific. Just where and when she foundered, with all on board, remains a secret of that speechless sea. The last message came from her on the morning of March 24, 1939. Her captain, still gallantly blithe, radioed that he was facing southerly gales with his lee rail under and was having a wonderful time.

The rest is silence; silence, and wonder and mystery.

But when that ill-starred junk, the Sea Dragon , went to the bottom she took with her a man who had given his life to adventure and discourse on the adventures of other men. Several years before his untimely death in the Pacific, Richard Halliburton had decided to write the life of a fellow nomad who had followed the Red Gods and traversed the waterways of the world even as he himself had done.

The author of The Royal Road to Romance , it is true, had never met Brooke in person, and had never seen "Shelley plain." But the two had come together in the spirit world of the written word. When a mere schoolboy at Lawrenceville, Richard had fallen under the spell of the still youthful poet's fearlessly intimate lyrics. He small volume he carried about with him became his Bible.

He placed Rupert Brooke on an adolescent list of heroes, side by side with Alexander the Great and Lord Byron and Richard Coeur de Lion. When he learned of the poet's death and burial at Skyros his one wish was some day to make a pilgrimage to his idol's island grave.

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