HOW THE MOST ENGLISH OF POEMS
INSPIRED A SCOT TO CHAMPION HUMAN RIGHTS
You can find out more about the inspiration Maxwell Fyfe found in Rupert Brooke's war sonnets in Tom Blackmore's guest blog for
English Cabaret visit Dymock, from EC Vlog #6
Written, Presented and Edited by
Robert Blackmore and Lily Blackmore
2015 was the centenary of the publication of Rupert Brooke's War Sonnets, and also of his death. Maxwell Fyfe admired these newly published poems as a schoolboy at George Watson's School in Edinburgh recollecting later that his English teacher 'HJ' 'never quite understood why I did, or how I could, prefer the wartime sonnets of Rupert Brooke to those of his hero Wordsworth.'
Most memorably Maxwell Fyfe quoted Brooke when concluding his case against Nazi organisations in August 1946.
'It may be presumptuous for lawyers, who do not claim to be more than the cement of society to speculate or even dream of what we wish to see in place of the Nazi spirit. But I give you the faith of a lawyer. Some things are surely universal: tolerance, decency, kindliness. When such qualities have been given the chance to flourish in the ground that you have cleared, a great step will have been taken. It will be a step towards the universal recognition that
"sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven."
are not the prerogative of any one country. They are the inalienable heritage of mankind.'
David Maxwell Fyfe's Nuremberg closing speech
This was an extract he repeated time and again throughout his career. He claimed Brooke's vision for England for all and as he told the
House of Lords in 1958 it was from that speech that he went on to try and draft the
European Convention on Human Rights.
FRIENDS OF DYMOCK POETS SPRING DAY
21st MARCH 2015
English Cabaret were delighted to be invited to pop up and sing at the March gathering of Friends of Dymock Poets. In the years leading up to the First World War, six poets were walking and talking, reading and writing around the village of Dymock in the valley of the River Leadon.
Amongst them was Rupert Brooke, who visited the area of Dymock in June 1914. Several of his poems were published in New Numbers, the literary journal founded to publish the work of the Dymock poets, including his famous series of sonnets '1914' which are set to music in Dreams of Peace & Freedom by Sue Casson. The Friends of the Dymock Poets celebrates the lives and work of these poets and their relationship with the Dymock area. The English Cabaret performance was simultaneously streamed live on the English Cabaret YouTube channel.
"But Grantchester! Ah, Grantchester!
There's peace and holy quiet there."
The Old Vicarage 1912
Brooke’s connection with Grantchester began in 1909 when, having taken his degree, he left his rooms in King’s College Cambridge and moved first into lodgings at The Orchard, where the famous Tea Garden continues to this day, later moving to the Old Vicarage next door, which now has a handsome bronze statue of the famous poet in its' garden.
Grantchester is a picturesque village just outside Cambridge, almost unchanged from the time when he lived there, and the Parish Church of St Andrew & St Mary includes his name on the war memorial.
'I am in the Country, in Arcadia; a rustic. It is a village two miles from Cambridge, up the river. You know the place; it is near all picnicking grounds. And here I work at Shakespeare and see few people.'
Letter from Brooke to Noel Oliver, 1909.
English Cabaret visited Grantchester in Spring 2015 to make a short film with Sue Casson's musical setting of Rupert Brooke's famous sonnet 'The Soldier' as it's underscore. It was published on YouTube on 23rd April, the 100th anniversary of his death.
English Cabaret broadcast a series of livestreams of Dreams of Peace & Freedom during their tour. This excerpt is sung by Lily Blackmore, Sue Casson and Jessica Holgate and narrated by Robert Blackmore with Sue Casson at the piano.