Post WWI Poetry Essay

Post WWI Poetry Essay

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Post WWI Poetry Essay

The poems that I will compare are Rupert Brooke – The Soldier,
Seigfried Sassoon – ‘They’, and How Sleep the Brave – William Collins.

Rupert Brooke - The Soldier

The first few words that Brooke uses are ‘If I should die,’ He uses if
as a possibility of death. He uses this because he thinks death is a
possibility not a definite answer to war. The forth word he uses
connects the Sestet and Octave together because ‘think’ is used in
both stanza. At the end of the first line he says ‘me’. This means
that he is a ‘patriotic soldier who has done his duty for his
country’. ‘That there’s some corner of a foreign field’. This means
where every he falls during the war, no matter if it is in a shell
hole or on the edge of a river he will be able to die in a piece of
England. This shows even more patriotism towards the war and his
fellow soldiers. The line ‘in that rich earth a richer dust
concealed’, means that the soldier’s ashes are held in the earth. They
have been called ‘richer dust’ because the ashes of the people are the
ashes of people who have dies for their country and their fellow
countrymen. This also means that his body fertilizes the patriotism
and honour of England’s people. ‘A dust whom England bore, shaped,
made aware’, means that the man who died was raised by England and
educated. This personifies England as a mother nurturing a small
child. The soldier’s body is said to be owned by England in the line,
‘A body of England’s’. In the poem the word ‘blest’ is used some this
may have some religious significance. The lines 5 – 8 are describing
the soldiers ‘Englishness’. It is patriotism at its most extreme.

In the second stanza, the word ‘think’ arises again, joining the
sestet and octave. ‘All evil shed away’, means that the person who has
sacrificed their body for their country cannot sin any more because
they are dead. This may also mean that they may have been forgiven for
killing the enemy to protect their country and its rights of freedom.
‘A pulse in the eternal mind’ has a spiritual or religious meaning. It
could mean that all of the people, who knew him in the war and his
family, still remember him and will do forever. ‘Gives somewhere back
the thoughts by England given’, continues the patriotism and
emphasizes his sacrifice for England. The last three lines describe
the ‘Good of England’. The last line ‘In hearts at peace, under an

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English heaven’, can have two meanings. The first one is that his
heart is at rest because he has died, and the second is he will be
bringing peace to the world. In both stanza’s think means imagine. So
in other words he wants you to image if he was dead, then he talks
about the things his body would do after he had died. Then he talks
about imaging that all his evil has been shed away and he will be at
peace. The repetition of the word England shows the importance of
England to the poet and ‘the soldier’.

Seigfried Sassoon – ‘They’

This poem explains the horrors of war and the effect on the soldier’s
who returned from the mud and gun fighting. ‘The Bishop tells us:
‘When the boys come back, they will not be the same;’. This
explanation of the war is inadequate from a Bishop. Though what he
says is true, he doesn’t really explain it very well. This may be to
cover up his idea’s about the war. The Bishop also says that the
enemies that the soldier’s are fighting are an anti – Christ (against
God). The bloodshed of these people will stop the ‘anti – Christ’. The
Bishop also says that the soldier’s have ‘challenged Death and dared
him face to face’. The second stanza describes the effects of the war
on the soldier’s. ‘George lost both his legs, and Bill’s stone blind;
Jim’s shot through the lungs and died; and Bert’s gone syphilitic’.
These are only a few of the things that could happen to the soldiers
who went and fought for their country. The second last line ‘You’ll
not find a chap who’s served that hasn’t found some change’. This
shows that the soldiers had obviously seen a lot of bloodshed and
mangled bodies during the war. Then the Bishop finishes the poem with
an inconclusive explanation again, ‘The ways of God are strange’.

William Collins – How Sleep the Brave

The first line of the poem describes the soldiers being remembered as
hero’s/heroic. ‘By all their country’s wishes blest!’, the country
that the soldiers came from are blessing them for their efforts in the
war. The poet assures us that the fallen soldiers have not been
forgotten. In the second stanza the first two lines describe ‘fairy
hands’ which could be a description of angels ringing their ‘knell’. A
knell is a funeral bell, so this would signal their death. The second
line ‘By forms unseen their dirge is sung’. This means that their
dirge (a funeral song) is being sung by the angels above. ‘There
honour comes, a pilgrim grey’, this means that the dead, have been
given honour after they have died and they are being remembered. The
forth line of the second stanza describes the ground of where the
soldiers dies as blessed.

The Soldier is a very patriotic poem and Brooke uses if a lot. This
means that there is a possibility of death for him, but he has
accepted his fate. He seems to glorify war; he doesn’t show the bad
sides of war, death or suffering. He just says that when a soldier
dies he will be remembered.

Siegfried Sassoon’s They describes the horrors of war rather than The
Soldier which doesn’t. It explains the different affects that the war
has had on different people. People have lost legs, gone blind, shot,
and got lots of different diseases.

William Collins describes what happens to the soldier after he has
died. He describes the more spiritual side of the death of the
soldiers. He honours the dead soldiers for their effort in the war.
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