Poem The Soldier by Rupert Brooke

This excerpt illustrates the celebration of the war of a patriotic English soldier. His devotion to his nation can be found in his words which are full of bravery and courage. He does not have any remorse if he dies in the war. The speaker shows his wish after death and suggests not mourning in his death.

                                         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.

           The given excerpt is taken from the poem ‘‘The Soldier’’ by Rupert Brooke. The excerpt is all about the bravery of a British soldier who is taking part in a war somewhere in a foreign land and his devotion towards his nation.
The very first line of this stanza depicts the obligation of the soldier. The soldier has to fight in the war where the possibility of death and life is equal. The speaker urges his people that if he should die in the war not to mourn for his death. He requests them “think only this of me: / That there’s some corner of a foreign field / That is forever England.” This assertion also depicts the speaker’s romantic attitude towards death in the battlefield. The persona takes death as an opportunity to make a foreign land England forever with the irrigation of his blood. The speaker expresses high patriotic overtone and shows his love and respect for his nation. He keeps his nation’s pride at the top.
Similarly, the word ‘dust’ used in this stanza refers to the dead body of a soldier. The speaker believes the foreign soil, where he is dying is the fortunate soil because a brave English death body is going to be concealed.  He states even if he dies in the foreign land, he will become dust. And the foreign land becomes the land of England because it gets the dust of English death bodies buried in it.

More to this, he also claims that the “dust” is richer than the foreign land as it is a part of England. As the English soil has shaped his mentality and awareness, he seems proud of being an English born soldier and his race.

Furthermore, the speaker feels his body would breathe English air in that foreign land which is made England forever by wetting it with blood. The air that his body breathes in the foreign soil can immortalize him that provides a sense of existence even after his death.

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In this excerpt, the speaker regards England as his mother who gave birth to him. Similarly, England seems to play the role of a mother as it allowed him to ‘‘roam’’ and gave ‘‘her flowers to love’’.  In this sense, his love for English soil and his willingness to sacrifice is equivalent to a son’s love for his mother.

In the last line of the excerpt, the speaker wishes his dust to be washed by the river and blessed by the sun. Here, the speaker is talking about the sun to rise in the foreign land in the same manner as it rises in England.

This excerpt postulates the glorification of the war by an English soldier who wants to die for his nation. The tone of the excerpt is positive towards war in order to get fame and glory. He glorifies his death as a means of making a foreign land England forever by his blood and the remains of his dead body. The excerpt is highly patriotic in its tone that valorizes the inner feelings of a soldier regarding the war who believes that sacrificing life in the war is the greatest tribute to the nation.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares, we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shed. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

The given excerpt is taken from one of the popular war poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est” written by Wilfred Owens. It depicts the horrendous state of the soldiers in the battleground.

In this excerpt, the poet illustrates wretchedness of the war to the soldiers which put them in between life and death. With the help of the words, the poet creates an image of the battleground where the soldiers are struggling to save their dear lives. Every soul in the battleground seem to be tired and putting their great effort in order to remain alive.

Through the very first line, the poet shows what sort of difficulties the soldiers are facing in the battleground. The soldiers are in physically and mentally worn out due to their experiences in war. The image of the soldiers depicted in first two lines “Bent double, like old beggars,” “Knock-kneed” and “coughing like hags” shows what sort of life they are facing in the scary trenches. In the weight of their combat, they have become like old beggars and moving inside the trenches with the wounded knees. The word “we” in the second line gives a sense that the subjects of the poem are the group of the soldiers. These two lines inform us the bodies of the soldiers have become dreadfully distorted and deformed in the pool of blood.

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In the following two lines, the poet gives the sense that the soldiers are heading towards the “distant rest” that may refer to the death itself. They seem to be indifferent towards the war but they are bound to struggle for their dear life. Even the battle is about to end for the day, the soldiers are terrified of the death that is roaming around them inside the sickening trenches they are hiding into.

“Men marched asleep” in the fifth line of the excerpt gives a sense that they are left senseless or half-dead within the trenches. Creeping along the trenches, most of them had lost their boots or maybe their legs but they are moving on anyway with blood flowing out of their bodies. The words like “blood-shod,” “lame,” “all blind” in the sixth line of the excerpt make us visualize the awful condition of the soldiers.

Last two lines of the excerpt show the senselessness of the soldiers haunted by the fear of death. “Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots” makes us understand that they are tired of the war sound as if they are unable to hear any sound around them. They all seem to be momentarily overwhelmed by the never-ending strains of the war. Even the “Five-Nines,” the gas shells which are dropping behind them seem to be usual and harmless at the face of the death.

This excerpt illustrates war is an unkind and wicked thing for the soldiers who are in the battleground. War might be celebrated as the emblem of bravery and pride but the soldiers on charge understand its actual face. The soldiers have to make their best efforts to keep their own lives on the battleground though they might be of either side winning or losing. Through the depiction of the horrendous state of the soldiers in the trenches, the poet wants to convey a message to all war-celebrating people that war is not a thing to celebrate because many lives are at stake in the battleground.

O men, wise men, superior beings, say,
Is there no substitute for war in this
Great age and ere? If you answer ‘No’
Then let us rear our children to be wolves
And teach them from the cradle how to kill.
Why should we women take waste our time and work
In talking peace, when men declare for war?

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The given excerpt is extracted from the poem “Woman And War” written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. In this excerpt, the speaker as the representative of all women shows her dissatisfaction with the war.

In this excerpt, the persona strikes upon the patriarchal mindset that glorifies the war and puts motherhood of females at bay. She shows her dissatisfaction with the mankind that thinks war has no any choice in order to earn glory and pride.

The speaker of the excerpt addresses her male counterparts as “O men, wise men, superior beings” acknowledging their dominance over the females as they perform the decisive role in the family. She dares to question the so-called “wise” and “superior” male counterparts if there is “no substitute for war.” She points out the changing scenarios of the human civilization that has faced many wars in the past and urges to find an alternative to the deadly wars. She seeks the appropriate answer to her question.

In the following lines, she declares if there is no substitution for war let the women rear their children “to be wolves.” She furthermore asks for permission to teach their children to be killers as they take birth in this world. She wants the children to be trained for the wars as through their childhood if they are destined to be a part of the wars in their future.

In the last two lines, the questions over the superiority of male counterparts and tell it is a waste of time and work of females to talk about the peace if males declare for war.

The given excerpt urges the males to acknowledge the heart of motherhood that cares and nourishes the children to get a peaceful life while males put them into the wretchedness of the wars in the name of fame and pride. It insists on humanity to find another way for such fame and pride which can be gained peacefully.

To conclude, the discussed excerpts roam around the war psychology of different point of view.  The excerpt taken from “The Soldier” by Rupert Brooke valorizes the war in the point of view of a soldier who wants to participate in the war for the glory of his nation. Whereas, the excerpt taken from “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owens shows the wretchedness of the war faced by the soldiers who are struggling for their dear life inside the trenches. Furthermore, “Woman And War” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox postulates the female point of view which seeks peace rather than the war because motherhood cannot witness the death of the children in the horrendous battlefields. The outcome of these excerpts is war has different perspectives.


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