The sonnet the soldier was drafted at a time when the First World War was ongoing by the poet Rupert Brooke. This poet gives the nation of England glory in this poem. It is written to show commitment and love for one’s country. The poet talks of a soldier who is destined to leave his native country to engage in a battle. The persona is not sure whether they will come back alive since it is a matter of life and death. The poet strongly conveys several themes in this sonnet. More specifically, the poem conveys patriotism and love as its main themes. The poet shows a nationalist who is ready to die for the sake of his nation England. The poem uses the Italian form in making its structure, and the Shakespearean format to make its rhyme scheme.
The octave presents the physical aspects that are evidenced by words such as “dust”. This part of the poem pleads with the readers not to pity the persona. The persona urges the reader not to pity them since this was an act to prove their patriotism to their nation England. He calls his death a justified death since it was for the nation’s sake. Since the persona is not named in this poem, he is said to be speaking on his behalf and that of other soldiers. This idea of speaking on behalf of the other soldiers is presented in the line, “think only this of me”. (Brooke, 1). The persona does not care whichever part of the nation his body will be buried. The place where he is buried changes its status since it covers a patriot who died for the sake of his country. This indicates the love for one’s country as whichever the place, it is still England. “There shall be…dust concealed”, indicates this love. (Brooke, 3- 4).
The persona’s love for his nation is related to the love a son has for his mother that he is ready to sacrifice his life. England was his birthplace and it thus influenced the world views he held as well as his personality. Imagery in the poem is presented in phrases such as “her flowers to love, her ways to roam” (Brooke, 6). The voice in the poem also has a strong feeling about the beauty of their nation. The persona of the poem also gives us an imaginary perception of him. The persona does not remember that a grave in a foreign nation may not be regarded. The soldier thinks that his spirit will change into an eternal entity since he fought for the freedom of the country from war. This is evidenced in the last line of the poem when he calls England heaven. The persona states that his heart can only be changed by death. He says that he will lose all the evils of the earth and that he will give back to England what it gave to him upon his passing on. His sins will be washed away since he died doing the right thing: dying for his nation.
The poet describes the grave of the persona in a different part of the world as being a part and parcel of England. Brooke, in the sestet, expounds on what England offered the persona. In the words, ‘sights and sounds’ as well as “dreams”, the concept of imagery is brought. The soldier explains that his nation fills its air with “laughter”, friends, as well as “peace” and “gentleness” to further explain imagery. The poet in this sense brings out repetition as a stylistic device that to emphasize the importance of the name to which the persona draws his identity it also explains the components of the daily English life.
The poet also uses a lot of rhyme such as in the words, “her sights and sounds”, “laughter and learned” to create musicality of the poem. (Brooke, 13). The words “laughter and learned”, also describe the interesting life of England as well as a consonance of the poem. This sonnet is taken to be nationalistic as it gives tribute to the soldiers of the nation of England who battled in the First World War. This poem tells the reader to find out the reasons why nations engage in wars. They readers should not just be swayed by what they are told as there is always a bigger reason than what is said. This is because, during that time of the battles, the soldiers were not able to bring the corpses of their colleagues.
Brooke, Rupert. “The Soldier. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Twentieth Century and After”. Vol. F. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006. 1955-6.
Brooke, Rupert. “The Soldier”. Clarke, George H. (Ed). A Treasury of War Poetry. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2005
Roberts, David, and Rupert Brooke: “Famous and Idolized Poets of the First World War. War Poetry”. 1999. Web. 14 Feb 2013.