Archive for February, 2009

Rupert Brooke and Sep Kelly

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

My great grand uncle was Frederick Septimus Kelly (aka Cleg or Sep):

On 22 April [1915] Kelly became aware that Rupert Brooke was dangerously ill. The following day Brooke died and was buried on Skyros by his close circle, the officers known as the Latin Club – the critic and composer, W. Denis Browne; Arthur (Ock) Asquith (later Brigadier-General Arthur Asquith); the scholar and son of Lord Ribblesdale, Charles Lister; Patrick H. Shaw-Stewart, scholar and, at the age of 25, a director of Barings Bank; Bernard Freyberg (later General Lord Freyberg VC and Governor-General of New Zealand); and ‘Cleg’ Kelly. Kelly’s measured description of both the death and burial of the poet have been extensively quoted in the Brooke literature. It was W. Denis Browne and Kelly who sorted Brooke’s belongings as their ship left Skyros for the Gallipoli peninsula, and it was Kelly, methodical as ever, who copied the contents of the poet’s notebook against its loss in transit to his family. After the Hood Battalion left England, the friendship between Kelly and Brooke had deepened. There are frequent references to their being together on group outings on leave, nights spent together at the dinner table, of W. Denis Browne and Kelly entertaining their fellow officers with Brooke to the fore and, towards the end, accounts of Brooke coming alone to Kelly’s cabin to read his poems and to discuss literature. Brooke’s death was a personal loss. Kelly is said to have begun composing his Elegy dedicated to Brooke as the poet lay dying nearby.

Taken from page 36 of “Race Against Time: the Diaries of F.S. Kelly”, selected, edited and introduced by Therese Radic. Published in 2004 by the National Library of Australia.

I have an MP3 of Kelly’s Elegy to Rupert Brooke in case anyone wants it.