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A Short Analysis of Isaac Rosenberg’s ‘Break of Day in the Trenches’

A summary of a classic war poem

‘Break of Day in the Trenches’ is by one of the First World War’s leading war poets, Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918). The poem might be analysed as war poetry’s answer to John Donne’s ‘The Flea’ – because the rat which is so friendly towards the English poet will also cross No Man’s Land and make friends with the German enemy. The rat, that ubiquitous feature of WWI imagery, here acts as a reminder of the English and Germans’ common humanity, even in times of war.

Break of Day in the Trenches

The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Isaac Rosenberg’s ‘The Troop Ship’

A brief introduction to a powerful short WWI poem by Isaac Rosenberg

According to Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg was one of the three poets of significance who died during the First World War. Although his reputation has been overshadowed by Wilfred Owen (who died in 1918, the same year as Rosenberg), he was an important voice during WWI, as his short poem ‘The Troop Ship’ demonstrates. Here is the poem, followed by a brief analysis of its features.

The Troop Ship

Grotesque and queerly huddled
Contortionists to twist
The sleepy soul to a sleep,
We lie all sorts of ways
And cannot sleep. Read the rest of this entry