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Julian Grenfell (Julian Henry Francis Grenfell) Biography

(1888–1915), (Julian Henry Francis Grenfell), The Times, Morning Post, Some Soldier Poets, Julian Grenfell

poem brooke ‘into battle’

British poet, the eldest son of Lord Desborough; he was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, after which he took a commission with the Royal Dragoons in 1910. A keen sportsman and much admired officer, he won the Distinguished Service Order for a courageous act of reconnaissance. He died of a head wound on 26 May 1915, the day upon which his poem ‘Into Battle’, sent to his mother the previous month, appeared in The Times; the Morning Post acclaimed it as ‘the one incorruptible and incomparable poem which the war has yet given us’ and Grenfell's name joined Brooke's as a paragon of nobility and self-sacrifice. While ‘Into Battle’ has, like Brooke's work, been disparaged for its enthusiastic view of death in action, it is remarkable for the compelling accumulation of natural imagery through which it invokes the heroic spirit. Robert Graves considered the poem an authentic expression of the ‘overwhelming sense of natural beauty which a soldier is entitled to recognize as a premonition of death’. Grenfell's work was represented in T. Sturge Moore's edition of Some Soldier Poets (1919); no collection of his poetry has yet been published, although selections from it appear in Julian Grenfell (1976) by Nicholas Mosley.

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