The Soldier (poem)

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"The Soldier" is a poem written by Rupert Brooke. The poem is the fifth of a series of poems entitled 1914.

It is often contrasted with Wilfred Owen's 1917 antiwar poem Dulce Et Decorum Est. The manuscript is located at King's College, Cambridge. Thomas Hardy has written the famous poem "Drummer Hodge" which is perhaps the fiercest and most direct polemic against Brooke's work.

References to "The Soldier"[edit]

Lyrics by Roger Waters' "The Gunner's Dream" (from the Pink Floyd's album The Final Cut) make reference to "The Soldier".

Implicit references to this poem (and several others) are made in Muse's song "Soldier's Poem" from their album Black Holes & Revelations.

Analysis of poem[edit]

This poem was written at the beginning of the First World War in 1914, as part of a series of sonnets written by Rupert Brooke. Brooke himself, predominantly a prewar poet, died the year after “The Soldier” was published. “The Soldier”, being the conclusion and the finale to Brooke’s ‘1914’ war sonnet series, deals with the death and accomplishments of a soldier.

Written with fourteen lines in a Petrarchan/Italian sonnet form, the poem is divided into an opening octet, and then followed by a concluding sestet. As far as rhyme scheme, the octet is rhymed after the Shakespearean/Elizabethan (abab cdcd) form, while the sestet follows the Petrarchan/Italian (efg efg) form. The volta, the shift or point of dramatic change, occurs after the fourth line where Brooke goes from describing the death of the soldier, to his life accomplishments.

This sonnet encompasses the memoirs of a deceased soldier who declares his patriotism to his homeland by declaring that his sacrifice will be the eternal ownership of England of a small portion of land upon which he died. The poem appears to not follow the normal purpose of a Petrarchan/Italian sonnet either. It does not truly go into detail about a predicament/resolution, as is customary with this form; rather, the atmosphere remains constantly in the blissful state of the English soldier.

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