Break of Day in the Trenches Analysis

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In the poem, “Break of Day in the Trenches”, the author, Isaac Rosenberg shows the theme that endless conflict leads emotionally numb soldiers to snap, through the literary devices, tone and personification.

Tone is used by Rosenberg to furthermore reveal the theme in this poem. The two that he uses are musing and contemplative tones. The author uses the air of musing in this poem throughout the beginning few lines of the poem. When a soldier is immersed into war they are exposed to the death of their friends and peers, they are taken from their family, and they are forced to repel any emotions. The soldier who is telling his story is sitting in the war trench at sunrise or in his words, the “druid Time”. The Druids are an ancient civilization who at sunrise made sacrifices to their gods. This leads readers to believe that the soldier is sitting among what could be interpreted the human “sacrifices” that war had taken. Around him there are soldiers lying dead for seemingly no good reason. To be talking in the tone of curiosity rather than pain and horror in that situation, it shows that he has numbed himself to the feelings that would naturally come to him because he is so used to seeing the display of death. The other tone that is used by the author is a tone of contemplation. Rosenberg shifts from talking to himself, to directly addressing the rat, asking questions and drawing his own conclusions. The soldier gets more and more demanding of the rat as the poem goes on, eventually asking it, what do the eyes of mankind say. The soldier uses the rat to ask all of these questions because he knows he shouldn’t be thinking emotionally. He can’t control himself and he has to let off steam by talking to a rat, which can’t respond or judge him. He then has a final break in his mind, using the death of a poppy to symbolize death of soldiers. He says, “Poppies whose roots are in man’s veins/ Drop and are ever dropping;/ But mine in my ear is safe-/ Just a little...
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