Last Updated on June 15, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 319
This famous two-stanza sonnet by Rupert Brooke has two titles, “The Soldier” and “Nineteen-Fourteen: The Soldier.” The second of these titles, especially, helps readers to understand that the poem will, in some way, address the subject of the First World War, or, as it was known at the time, the Great War (in which Brooke himself fought and died). As the poem begins, the speaker is revealed to be a soldier himself, presumably the soldier of the title. He speaks to the reader directly, it seems, saying that if he should die in battle far from home, that tiny part of a far-off Continental battlefield will always be England because he will have died in that spot. He says that the rich earth where he dies will actually conceal a richer dust that gave birth to and bred a boy who loved her flowers and roamed her countryside, his body having been created of England and nourished with English air, cleansed by English waters, and blessed by her sun. It is as though his body, composed of England, will, by achieving his eternal rest there, turn that place in which he died into a little piece of England.
In the second stanza, the soldier says that his heart will have been purged of all evil as he will have taken his place in eternity, and he will have died thinking only of his beloved homeland, England. He will see only the sights of home and hear only England’s sounds, dreaming happily of the country in which he grew up, the laughter he shared with friends there, and the tranquility and calm of peace at home. The soldier seems to take a great deal of comfort in his belief that he carries his home with him everywhere he goes, even into the most dire of situations, like a terrifying and brutal war. His remembrances of home bring him peace.