Analysis of The Soldier by Rupert Brooke

 

Rupert Chawner Brooke was born on 3 August 1887. He was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War, He died in 1915 at the age of 27 from Sepsis caused by an infected mosquito wound. His death is somewhat ironic because he passed away not in a heroic way though he died while he was serving for his country.

Though after the World War I some critics reacted against the Brooke legend by calling his verse foolishly naive and sentimental, the poem carries Brooke’s excessive patriotic heart to assert that it is a glorious and honorable sacrifice to die for your country, and specifically England. The poem acts almost as a love poem to England, where he romanticizes its beauty and bountifulness.

 

Overview

Title: highlights the figure of an ideal, specific soldier to highlight this is how a soldier is – one who is willing to sacrifice his life for his country.  

Form: similar to a Petrarchan sonnet, has 14 lines, separated into stanzas of eight and six.

Rhyme scheme: The rhyming pattern is not typical of a Petrarchan sonnet, which usually has a ABBAABBA CDECDE pattern. (the rhyme scheme is ABABCDCD ABCABC)

Tone: positive and motivating

Theme: patriotism, loss in war

Narration: first person point of view of an England soldier who foresees his death but believes his death as a victory.

 

Deep-end Analysis

 

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.

 

enjambment: run on line

alliteration: foreign field that is for ever / rich earth a richer dust/ washed by the rivers, blest by suns (aspirated consonant sounds generate the feeling of enthusiasm on the part the soldier when glorifying his country.)

personification: A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware/ Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam (England has given the attribution of a mother)

symbol: dust (religious, death: at funeral sermons this word is heard, all the people would turn into dust after they are dead)

imagery: flowers, ways, rivers

repetition: England (poet’s motif is clear that he wants to glorify England and emphasize that dying for his motherland is a tribute to the country)

anaphora: that (to emphasize that his death is not loss, his death would serve the expansion of England)

conditional: If I should die, (poet implies that his death is certain, however he puts it in a positive tone)

word pun: suns (can be read as sons)

 

The soldier starts his speech requesting the reader not to be worried about his death because his death will serve to the expansion of English territory. He emphasizes that the soil he is to be buried would be richer than before because his good virtue will be infused into that land – the virtue nourished by the values of England and the beauty of it. In doing so, the narrator is able to infer that a soldier can help to take the very fragments that helped to create that beauty and transport it to a foreign country. This act, if it were real, would of course be very noble. However, the poet seemingly glorifies the possible loss of a valuable life at war, stressing that it is a worthy sacrifice to a motherland which has given a person the life, education, beauty and freedom.

Usually, in a sonnet the second stanza approaches a new concept. In this Sestet, the narrator is extending further the idea highlighted in the Octave.

 

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.

 

metaphor: all evil shed away (religious - horrors of war: poet seems to suggest that his death has cleansed all the evil from his heart) a pulse in the eternal mind (at death he has become a part of the universe, achieving immortality) hearts at peace (peace brought by death) English heaven (The suggestion being that England is the closest you can come to heaven in the mortal world.)

inversion: Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given (originally should be: somewhere gives back the thoughts given by England)

personification: Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day; /And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, (to personify England- glorifying its beauty and virtue)

simile: dreams happy as her day (dreams are compared to the day time in England which according to the soldier, should be a very happy time; of course night belongs to darkness or evil forces.)

 

The soldier romanticizes his death which gives him the chance to cleanse his heart and join as a fragment of vast universe making him immortal. He assures that he would be recieved the same beauty, happiness, love and companionship given by England in the heaven. He mentioning it as an English heaven might suggest that the soldiers who entered the heaven sacrificing their lives make it a territory of England infusing the virtues they carry with them. Or else he might be suggesting that wherever he is to be born will be under the power of England showing the vastness of its territory. He compares his country, England similar to a heaven. This poem has a sense that England will prevail, that its sovereignty is eternal.

The poet’s motif seems to be to romanticize the act of war to attract more men to join the war to protect and expand the British empire. As this poem was written in the first year (1914) of the World War I, we can assume that. However, the war poets like Wilfred Owen criticized the poets like Rupert Brooke who drive young men into horrible warfare, giving them a horrible death. His poem ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ illustrates one such example.

What do you think of the poet’s motif? Please leave a comment about your idea of the poem. Share the poem if you find it useful to others.

 

 

 

 

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