The Soldier, Rupert Brooke

  • the soldier is an idealised portrait of England encapsulated within the person of the narrator
  • There is an irony in the fact that Brooke is buried 'in some corner of a foreign field' - though not a battelfield, but the Greek island of Skyros where he died of septicaemia before he reached the front.
  • in the form of the Petrarchan sonnet, being divided into an octet and sestet, the former having two quatrains with alternate rhyming lines and the latter rhyming a-b-c-a-b-c
  • the meter is iambic pentameter which is suited to its elevated and philosophical language and mood
  • the viewpoint is that of the poet as narrator and there is a strong sense of personal identity as well as identificaton with England
  • repetition of 'english' and 'england' shows and unashamed patriotism, as does the notion that burying the poet in 'some corner of a foreign field' will have the effect of making it 'forever England',and that his body will decay to 'a richer dust' than its surroundings. This is explained by the description of England that is shown in the 'dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware' - the tripling here creating an empahsis on England as creator, compared with the shaping of Adam by God in Genesis.
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The Rear-Guard, Siegfried Sassoon

  • written in 3rd person and isnt part of Sassoon's own war experiences
  • four stanzas with a varying number of lines and an irregular rhyme scheme which reflects the hesitancy of the soldier picking his way through the tunnel
  • iambic pentameter is appropriate to the narrative tone and flexible enough to accommodate the lines of blank verse that are found at intervals
  • 1st stanza sets the scene with the man exploring the tunnel - the words 'Groping', 'prying' and 'patching' create an atmosphere of uncertainty.
  • “Dawn’s ghost…”: the weak light of dawn is evoked in this supernatural metaphor.
  • Irony at the end of poem ('unloading... behind him step by step') is that he is merely exchanging one form of hell for another
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Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen

  • title of poem means 'it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country'. Taken from an ode by Horace. Owen uses it ironically as his poem describes the horror of seeing a man dying from chlorine gas - nothing epic nor heroic
  • 3 stanzas, 2 octets and the final 12 lines. Regular rhyme scheme using alternate lines
  • iambic pentameter, which allows Owen the flexibility of breaking it up and varying the syllables without losing the underlying structure
  • hyperbole of 'all went lame, all blind' signifies their state of the moment while they are unable to march or even see straight because they are 'drunk with fatigue'
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Glory of Women, Siegfried Sassoon

  • Petrarchan sonnet, normally used for love poems. here is appropriate to the theme of Sassoon's poem, which is a satire on the treatment he sees women giving to the fighting men
  • The octet is divided into two quatrains by the rhyme scheme, which rhymes alternate lines in each, while the sestet rhymes the lines as a-b-c/a-b-c
  • meter is iambic pentameter which is appropriate to the conversational style of address the poet uses. The octet is concerned with Sassoon's idea of the women's views; the sestet works in opposition to show the reality of the war
  • any man who was injured in an 'unmentionable place' would be a subject for embarrassment rather than sympathy - an attitude that Sass is mocking
  • The German mother is a representative of all mothers whose sons are fighting - sent by higher powers to kill and die
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Break of Day in the Trenches, Isaac Rosenberg

  • one continuous stanza to reflect the unbroken line of thought within it. The free verse form is precisely suited to the philosophical nature of the text
  • personification of 'old druid Time' , relevant to the dawn, connects the pagan religious sacrafices of the past with the sacrafices of WW1.
  • the rat is decribed as 'queer' and 'sardonic' , anthropomorphic qualities that make the rat symbolic rather than just another example of vermin
  • the rat is equally able to touch English and German hands and can do so 'if it be your pleasure / to cross the sleeping green between'. The assonace has the effect of lengthening the words to simulate the distance of 'no man's land' between the two lines of trenches. The contrast between the soldiers hiding in their trenches and the rat coming and going freely between the two sides is the biggest irony of all.
  • The men are 'bonds to the whim of murder / sprawled in the bowels of the earth / to torn fields of france' . Murder is personified as a powerful ruler at whose whim men are killed to lie in the craters and graveyards of French battlefields.
  • The writer asks the rat, rhetorically, 'what do you see in our eyes/ at the shrieking iron and flame/ hurled through still heavens?' The onomatopoeia of 'shrieking' combined with the metonymy of 'iron and flame' creates the effect of an apocalyptic chaos which is emphasised by the contrast of the 'still heavens' through which it is 'hurled' - the alliterative juxtaposition of 'hurled' and 'heavens' giving an epic dimension.
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Triumphal March, T. S. Eliot

  • in the opening line the stone of the street is alternated with the man-made weapons and insignia of the army. Oak leaves are the insignia of higher ranking officers in the American army.
  • Shorter minor sentences that follow show the excitement of the people as they watch, 'and the flags. And the trumpets. And so many eagles' (the eagle was the symbol of the Roman senate and people as it was the messenger of Jupiter, and a symbol of America). The language changes as the viewpoint changes from the material world 'perceived' by the plebeians to the spiritual world 'perceived' by the General
  • Eliot moves between an elevated and intellectual mode and this more colloquial and commonplace one. The line, 'the natural wakeful life of our Ego is a perceiving' which suggests that the inward life of these people lies in watching others engage in action, is followed by 'we can wait with our stools and our sausages' which gives them an air of stoical, if unimaginative, patience.
  • Elliot's language reverts to the colloquial as the voice of the plebeians is heard again, marvelling at the number of eagles and trumpets. Elliot's use of bathos is a technique he uses, perhaps to remind the reader that the spiritual and the commonplaace exist in the same place
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Dead Man's Dump, Isaac Rosenberg

  • 11 stanzas of free verse with an irregular rhyme scheme. The Stanza length varies as does the length of the lines and the lack of reqularity and order reflects the disruptive voilence of its subject.
  • verbs 'plunging' and 'racketed' suggest speed and violence and the assonance of 'shattered track/ racketed' creates a harsh and dissonant effect. the stanza continues with the image of barbed wire which 'stuck out like many crowns of thorns' associating it with the crucifixion of Jesus in the New Testament and, by extension, implying the Christ-like status of the soldiers he calls 'our brothers dear.'  the deception of 'the rusty stakes like sceptres old/ to stay the flood of brutish men' reinforces the cruxification image and is also a phrase which links aurally with 'rusty freight'. he deliberately contrasts the 'brutish men' of the enemy forces with 'our brothers dear' of those the wire was intended to protect.
  • rest on poem.
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Men Who March Away, Thomas Hardy

  • poem which sees the war from the point of view of the ordinary soldiers who have joined up to fight. They are answering the critics who suggest that they are blindly following a doubtful mission. Hardy puts the case that they knew what they were doing and why they were doing and why they were doing it.
  • form is unusual with seven line stanzas that rhyme a-b-b-b-a-a-b. The effects of this, together with Hardy's use of enjambment which sees most stanzas consisting of a single sentence, is to push the rhythm forward and create a strong emphasis on the last line of the stanza.
  • the meter is trochaic tetrameter, alternating with trochaic trimeter, which reflects the mixture of regret and determination that is the poem's mood.
  • Hardy also uses repetition to reinforce certain ideas within each stanza.
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To His Love, Ivor Gurney

  • consists of four stanzas each of 5 lines with the second, fourth and fifth lines rhyming together.
  • meter used is basic iambic trimeter, although this isn't regular and the variation of the rhythm, together with the use of enjambment, has the effect of pushing the poem onward towards the final stanza.
  • The tone is conversational, as though the poet was talking to a mutual acquaintance, and the mood begins as nostalgic but ends in horror.
  • the injunction to 'cover him over' with 'violets of pride/purple from Severn side' has several functions. First, the violet is a symbol of faithfulness and modesty which has proably been chosen to represent Gurney's view of the dead men; secondly the colour purple represents richness, but also mourning - therefore pride in the sense of doing one's duty despite being killed; thirdly the violets are a symbol of nature from the area they both loved and finally the words 'cover him' are repeated with a greater urgency in the final stanza where they link with the allliterative idea of 'masses of memoried flowers'
  • 'hide that red, wet/thing i must forget somehow'. from the assonance of 'red' and 'wet' the emphasis is thrown onto the 'thing' the once beloved person has turned into and even as he write about forgetting, we are made aware of the impossibility of forgetting the horrors seen on the battle field
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The Cherry Trees, Edward Thomas

  • Short poem is a quatrain with alternate rhyming lines.
  • The meter is basically iambic pentameter, giving a narrative tone, although the feminine endings to lines 2 and 4 add an extra syllable.
  • It is a single sentence in a elegiac mood that uses the scattering of the cherry blossom as an ironic comparison with the petals strewn at a non-existent wedding
  • Cherry Blossom is a feature of the English spring when the blossom creates a carpet of pink snow, as it does 'on the old road where all that passed are dead' This is one of the roads that led to war and the flowery covering that looks suitable for a wedding is wasted because 'there is none to wed' The trees continue to grow and blossom whether they are observed or not, showing nature's resillience
  • 'the early May morn' has a number of connotations, since May 1st was traditionally a holiday for the performance of maypole dancers - symbolic of fertility rites - and the crowning of a May King and Queen to preside over the ceremonies to celebrate the fecundity of the land which will produce crops, vegetables and fruit and grass to feed the animals. This abundance of nature is opposed to the death of men and the lack of weddings to produce a new generation of people. The cycle of life as shown in nature has been distruped in human beings; the contrast between the cherry trees and whose who passed by to death shows the futility of human behaviour
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Six Young Men, Ted Hughes

  • 5 stanzas, each of nine lines, which gives regularity to the form, otherwise not governed by a particular rhyme scheme or meter. The rhythm of the poem is obtained by the use of sound pattern and cadences. The tone is both nostalgic and prophetic as it concerns not merely a photograph from the past but our own mortality.
  • the preponderance of 'f' and 's' sounds in this stanza add to the softness of the mood, the former also linking 'photograph' with 'familar', 'friends' and 'faded'
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As The Team's' Head Brass, Edward Thomas

  • 36 lines of of blank verse, with a break in line 12 that divides the poem between the narrator's description of the scene and the dialogue between himself and the ploughman. Tone is conversational and the mood is refective. The poem captures a point in time between the old and the new, between a way of life that has continued for centuries and the war that will destroy it.
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