Themes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 15, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 583

Love of Country

The speaker refers to his home country seven times throughout the poem. By the third line, readers know where his sense of patriotism lies: with England. England is so intertwined with his soul that should he die in another land while fighting for his country, he will forever leave a little bit of England in that spot. There is an immense sense of pride in the ways England has “shaped” him; the very English air he has breathed has made him a better and stronger man. In the end, the speaker notes what would remain of him if his heart was stripped of all its evil; England would still remain. The sights and sounds of his home country are part of his heart eternally as he recalls days spent under an “English heaven,” among English friends and English flowers and rivers, “blest” by the English sunshine. He recalls the peace and happiness he felt in England, describing his native country exclusively in positive, pastoral terms. The speaker’s love of and connection to England is transcendent and will persist even after the soldier’s death far from home.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

War and Idealism

War has ripped the speaker from his home country, leaving him longing to return to England’s peaceful “sights and sounds.” Perhaps it is only through war that the speaker becomes so very aware of his love for and loyalty to England. As he serves his country in another land, potentially facing his own death, he longs for the country he loves. He realizes that this war (likely World War I, in which Rupert Brooke himself fought and died) may prevent his ever returning to England, and he therefore realizes how much there is to lose. The speaker also feels that ultimately he will be victorious over war because even if he dies in this “foreign land,” he will leave a bit of England there. War cannot separate him from his country as he claims the final victory. Significantly, Brooke omits any discussion of the horrors of battle from his poem, focusing solely on an idealistic description of both England his own potential death. While many poems written during and after World War I relay haunting imagery of violence and suffering, Brooke’s poem is remarkably serene.

Connection to Nature

The things that connect the speaker to England are very much in the natural realm. He has, for instance, been “washed by the rivers” of England. Washing is often symbolic of a spiritual cleansing, establishing a link between the speaker’s very soul and the natural world in his home country. In England, he is “blest by suns of home”; this natural connection provides symbolic links to knowledge and goodness. The sun connects him to a sense of faithfulness and constancy in England. The natural world of England is also figured as generous and abundant; England has "given” the speaker “her flowers to love” and “her ways to roam.” This connection to the natural world is established in the very first line as the speaker tells the reader that should he die, part of England will always remain in the country where he falls. If his blood is spilled or his body is never recovered, the speaker acknowledges that he also is part of the natural world that has been formed in England—he is “a dust whom England bore”—and he will return to his most natural state, becoming a “richer dust” than that of this “foreign land.”

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Summary

Next

Analysis