War has the unique ability to bring many disparaging types of poets into the forefront. World War I, called the Great War at the time, was an unimaginably brutal war, and poets emerged from the shadows to share their views on war. Rupert Brooke was Britain’s first war poet, a patriotic favorite of the nation. His poetry set the precedent for those who came after him. Siegfried Sassoon, Brooke’s radical opposite, offered a brutally realistic portrayal of war, and influenced future war writers such as Wilfred Owen to write raw verse. Isaac Rosenberg was a poet before the war, but World War I fueled him to speak on more powerful themes. This distinction sets him apart from past writers. Despite the drastic differences in the ways these poets approach war, they all have a common trend within their writings. Brooke, Sassoon, and Rosenberg all acknowledge the idea of God in their poetry, and their individual ideas about God affect their writing in various ways. Whether is it rejecting the idea of God outright or elevating other people or things to the level of gods, these three influential writers found ways to let their ideas about God show through in their writings.
Rupert Brooke is unequivocally the most patriotic writer of his time. He is best known for his poem “The Soldier”, a glorious depiction of England. In this poem, Brooke speaks of England itself as if it is tantamount to God, evoking the idea of Mother England— a sacred place where its’ children belong. England becomes elevated to the level of God, in that it is a protector and a guardian of its people. In the final line, Brooke states “In hearts at peace, under an English heaven” (Brooke, 2186). During a time of Bri...
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...d in existence who would allow the horrors of war to occur. All three war poets had different views on the idea of God, but all agreed on one thing: war and God are inexplicably linked. War and God can not be separated, if only because individual soldiers will always let their belief in God fuel them on the battlefield. Whether it be because God is England’s justification and reason for war, or because God is obviously missing during this critical time in England’s history, these writers acknowledge the idea of a divine presence (if only to immediately reject it) and show us that though World War I was decided faithless, God was being thought about and questioned always.
Damrosch, David, ed. "Perspectives: The Great War: Confronting the Modern." The Longman Anthology of British Literature. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Inc., 2003. 2183-2195.
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