I think that is pretty self-explanatory.
This is incredibly patriotic.
What does it all mean?
A soldier is pondering his death and is saying that should he die in battle, his body, his remains, is a reminder of England and England is always going to be there even if he is not.
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.
There shall be
Should I die here, wherever here is, in battle, my remains will always be English and England will always prevail.
(There shall be) In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
I am English through and through, proud of my roots, my teachings, my culture. England has given me everything, and being English gives me the power to ‘roam’, to conquer and see all perhaps? Only England can bathe and soothe me, nowhere else compares.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
If I die I am without sin. I fought in the name of my country and so upon my death any sins I have committed in the name of England are returned to England; I die a free soul. So is he actually seeking redemption for his actions?
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
I die dreaming of England and my last thoughts are of all the good things about England and what I have back there.
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
I die English and under the vision of English heaven.
Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
This is a sonnet of two verses that shows the patriotism of a soldier at war.
Patriotic. Matter of fact.
Suggested rhyme scheme
End stopped and run on lines of both masculine and feminine rhyme.
Similes and metaphors
Dust – ashes to ashes, dust to dust? Acknowledgement that we all come from the same source?
Thoughts – fighting for England and in England’s name – he doesn’t necessarily have the same beliefs?
Author’s relationship with their subject
The author is in love! With his country! Incredibly patriotic, I know I repeat this word a lot but for someone who whilst proud of their roots has issues with our politics, this is a hard concept to swallow at times.
Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
England is seen as his mother figure, raising questions of his parentage. Is he overly proud of his country because he is not so proud of his roots? Did he join up to escape a life he did not like? The reference to being ‘washed in rivers’ seen as a baptism of sorts?
England made the soldier what he is. Is that justification for his behaviour in war? When he asks that we think ‘only this of him’, is he saying he did his duties and not to judge him?
I am still forming an opinion of this poem.
Rupert Brooke is truly a beautiful war poet and I imagine was a very capable soldier. It is, however, difficult for me to connect his vision of England (unless it is completely tongue-in-cheek) with the one that I know, although England is aesthetically very beautiful.
It is that time of year when remembrance of our war dead is upon us, and honestly, I have such a wealth of respect for people that fight in the name of freedom. I just cannot bring myself to understand or comprehend war in any way, shape, or form. So whilst serving military have my utmost respect, this poem seems to be a work of propaganda and I cannot tell if is propaganda for war, or for England. Glorifying battle and death in the name of England. It just does not sit comfortably with me.
That being said, it is a beautifully imagined poem, imagery of England stirring my own feelings of missing its beautiful green hills and acres of fields passed on a sleepy train.
I think I am connecting my own confused feelings towards my homeland with those I have for this poem. In my head, England is this awful place where people go hungry and veterans go ignored and people suffer alone. In my heart, England is this beautiful, hopeful island full of amazing people, culture, prospects and togetherness. I just need to marry the two images together and see it for the reality that it is.
I hoped to read a poem that in some way was a commemorative piece as, like I said, it is that time of year. Instead I find myself both missing and loathing home, and wondering what that means.
When I read this I think of the song… This Is England