Why would the corner of some foreign field become England if Brooke should die?

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Brooke's poem is an expression of his belief that during World War I (and also, implicitly, in earlier wars) the English soldier was fighting more for an ideal than simply out of obedience for the demands of his country.

For centuries, England has seen itself as a country in which...

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Brooke's poem is an expression of his belief that during World War I (and also, implicitly, in earlier wars) the English soldier was fighting more for an ideal than simply out of obedience for the demands of his country.

For centuries, England has seen itself as a country in which freedom and individualism have flourished. The US, and all the English-speaking peoples throughout the world, have inherited the same mindset and the same conviction. In anticipating his death on a foreign field, the speaker is stating that since he will have died in order to perpetuate these English ideals, a part of England will have been figuratively planted in the soil. The "dreams, happy as her day," and the "gentleness" are the essence of England.

After the unprecedented carnage of the Great War, Brooke's verse, which seemed to idealize warfare, was often seen as unthinkingly representative of foolish slogans like "my country, right or wrong." Britain, Europe, and the world overall were so shocked by the scale of death that pacifism became for many an absolute ideal, cancelling in their minds the fact that in many cases war is unfortunately necessary. Though in retrospect "The Soldier" does sound naive and sentimental, it encapsulates the central thinking that has motivated not just British men in combat, but all soldiers throughout history.

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In his death on a foreign battlefield, the speaker believes that he will figuratively transform part of that field into England.

The speaker asks readers to remember him fondly. If he should die on a foreign battlefield, he says, the earth where his body has fallen will always symbolize England and her greatness. In fact, the speaker believes that, because he is English, his body will turn into "richer dust" than the original dust of the battlefield.

The speaker maintains that his dead body would enrich the earth on the battlefield. After all, his body was formed from the "dust" of England. He tells us that England is full of bucolic beauty. It is a pristine land, filled with the fruits of nature. It is this England that the speaker wants to die for.

Finally, the speaker maintains that he is happy to die for England, for she has given him much in life. To the speaker, England is a land of laughter, peace, and gentleness. By dying for England, he will have given back to his mother country all that she has blessed him with in life.

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