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Comparison between “The Soldier” and “A Dead Boche”

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 863
  • Category: Sonnet

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We were set to compare 2 war sonnets, which were “The Soldier (By Rupert Brooke) and A Dead Boche (By Robert Graves)”; these 2 poems are completely the opposite of each other including some wording, the structure etc. Here is the first comparison:

What the Poem Is Talking About

* The Soldier – This poem is trying to put the message through that being in the army will give you great pride, glory, shows your manliness, a hero’s legacy, a man’s ‘Life’s tournament’. He describes war as being the break out of labour and hard working jobs, the soldiers can get out of these jobs to find great pride in going to war and fighting off the evil Hun and come back to be glorified and cheered on into ‘heaven’. Soldiers that have died, he describes them as being manly, courageous and helped England in the war, he says:

“If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England….”

* On the other hand the sonnet “A Dead Boche” discriminates war tells us how brutal it is, how much devastation there is in the war. He doesn’t go into all the ‘hero talk’ but goes to the point straight away saying:

“To you who’d read my songs of War

And only hear of blood and fame,

I’ll say (you’ve heard it said before)

“War’s Hell!” and if you doubt the same…”

He then goes onto to tell us why the war is so gruesome and blatantly not a break or some ‘life’s tournament’ it is maybe a ‘life’s waste’ he may describe the same.

What the Sonnets Describe

* The Soldier – This sonnet describes (as I said before) that going to war is a break from work, a man’s duty for England, a man’s lust for blood. He goes onto talk about the future saying ‘If’ allot, judging if he will die and what he says will happen. He says :

“A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home….”

Rupert brook’s is trying to say that if his or the rest of the army dies they are a part of England dying for the country and if he does die England will thank him/her for his/her duties that they have contributed for England to kill the Hun.

* On the opposite sonnet “A Dead Boche” an important idea is the hopelessness of war and fighting, he creates vivid images of a dead soldier who is “propped up against a shattered trunk. The soldier has a face of sodden green and “Dribbling black blood from nose and beard”. Rupert uses these descriptions to create a realistic image of what death looks like and that war is to blame for this horrible death. Robert Graves describes the soldier in this way because he wants the reader to understand the reality of war, as men die without respect or ceremony, he goes on saying:

“…..Today I found in Mametz Wood

A certain cure for lust of blood:

Where, propped against a shattered trunk,

In a great mess of things unclean.

Sat a dead Boche; scowled and stunk

With clothes and face sodden green,

Big bellied, spectacled, crop-haired,

Dribbling black blood from nose and beard.”

This is saying a soldier, lets say walked over to a German trench. Lying there in front of his very eyes, a rotten German corpse, with blood dripping from his face, thinking to himself “we killed this innocent man, what if this happens to me”. This gives the reader a reality shock saying that there is no point of going into war and this could happen to anyone in the army.


Also “The Soldier” sonnet by Rupert Brooke uses thematic language, medieval and old sort of language, for example:

“In that rich earth a richer dust concealed”

He uses historical context maybe because of the period of which he might of published this poem (which was in 1911)

In “A Dead Boche” the language is again completely different, it’s ‘down to earth’. There is no heroic language its just blatant language no historical context, he does not need this language for this poem as he needs to get one point over “DONT GO TO WAR!”

“Big bellied, spectacled, crop-haired,

Dribbling black blood from nose and beard”

This is every day language that he uses. Also this poem was made after Rupert Brooke’s poem this was published in the period of 1916-1920.


In conclusion these 2 sonnets are very different to each other, they are completely opposite to each other in fact talking about different thoughts on the war (A soldier talking bout the glory into going to war and A Dead Boche talking about how there is hopelessness in going to war). I have compared these 2 sonnets to the best of my ability and I hope I got the point through!

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