Analysis of The Soldier by Rupert Brooke
“The Soldier”, is a British patriotic sonnet written by Rupert Brooke in 1914. It expresses love for the mother country which in this case is Great Britain. This poem describes the physical aspects of death and the writer’s opinion of it. Although death is the main point in this poem, it not depicted in a twisted and gruesome manner. Rather, death in this poem is a sacrifice. “The Soldier” is a patriotic poem. The purpose of patriotic poems during WWI was to motivate people to enlist for the armed forces.
It is quite similar to a piece of propaganda, asking in a way for people to join the armed forces; to take his place should he be killed –“If I should die, think only this of me”. We know that this poem is patriotic because of the last three lines of the first stanza, in particular –“A body of England’s, breathing English air,” We also know this poem is patriotic because it was written in 1914, when the war just started and spirits were high. After a while though, the enthusiasm dropped as people began to discover the nasty and cruel conditions of the trenches.
By the end of war, famine and constant bomb raids had completely obliterated all signs of patriotism. In the first stanza, Brooke mentions his belief of the physical aspects of death for one’s country. The “foreign field” is where his body will lay forever. The soil contains the soul of a glorious man who died for his country. Brooke believes that if he dies there, the soil around his body will become a part of England as a result of the purity of his soul –“That is forever England,” The soldier was brought up by England and as a result, his thoughts and beliefs are both influenced by England.
When he dies, all of his evil deeds and sins have been forgiven because he gave the ultimate sacrifice; to die for one’s country. Brooke also believes that, because the motherland was so nice to him, he must give back what she has given to him; that he must lay down his life to ensure that the motherland stays a free country. It is the only thing that he can give back to the motherland to say thanks. Throughout this poem, England is personified as a mother. It demonstrates how important the soldiers of England really are to the country itself.
Brooke writes this poem in a patriotic and joyful manner. He does not believe that dying for your country is a traumatic experience. This in contrast to another famously acclaimed poem by Wilfred Owen –“Dulce et Decorum Est” Brooke believes that dying for one’s country is a brave and honourable thing to do, especially during war. It states that should the person die, he should not be mourned, instead he should be looked upon as a selfless sacrifice to England.
Although the poem itself is referring to one person; himself, the title suggests that this poem is representing all soldiers, as when soldiers fight in wars, they lose their identity and become cogs in a big machine. To conclude, Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” is a patriotic poem about a soldier who had great love for his country. Brooke presents this sonnet as a piece of propaganda and encourages people to enlist for the armed forces. This poem describes the ideas of death in a mind of a patriotic person and gives us an insight into Brooke’s style of writing. Overall, this is a poem about honour and glory, about life and death.