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Mentone Girls' Grammar School | Kerferd Library

War Poetry: Isaac Rosenberg

Year 10 English | Language [VCELA] Literature [VCELT]

Source: Four Canadian soldiers, sleeping and writing letters in the trenches near Willerval. (IWM, 2019). Insert image: Isaac Rosenberg. (The National Archives, 2019).

Level 1 resource"The ‘war poet’ and ‘war poetry’, observed Robert Graves in 1942, were ‘terms first used in World War I and perhaps peculiar to it’. From Anglo-Saxon times to the Boer War, war poetry in English was written largely by civilians and did not have a clearly defined identity; with the extraordinary outpouring between 1914 and 1918, it established itself as a genre and the soldier-poet became a species." (Das, 2014)

Referencing Notice Don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For help see the Junior School or Senior School referencing guides, and / or CiteMaker.
Resource Key

When accessing content use the numbers below to guide you:

LEVEL

Brief, basic information laid out in an easy-to-read format. May use informal language. (Includes most news articles)

LEVEL

Provides additional background information and further reading. Introduces some subject-specific language.

Level 3 resourceLEVEL

Lengthy, detailed information. Frequently uses technical/subject-specific language. (Includes most analytical articles)

General Capabilities
Enduring Understandings
  • Students will understand that poetry is a deliberate form of language where structural and linguistic features combine to create meaning.
  • Students will understand that the poetry of war has a long tradition in literature.
  • Students will understand that meaning may change depending on the context, culture and linguistic understanding of the reader.
Essential Questions
  • How is poetry different to prose?
  • How can we create meaning with language?

Jump toJump to: Quick facts | Articles | eBooks | Poems

War Poetry | Isaac Rosenberg: Quick facts

Level 1Isaac Rosenberg (25 November 1890 – 1 April 1918)

War Poetry | Isaac Rosenberg: Articles

Level 2Articles

War Poetry | Isaac Rosenberg: eBooks and book chapters

Level 2 resourceClick on the following book covers to place a hold in the library catalogue or access the book online. If prompted, sign in with your School mConnect user name and password.

War Poetry | Isaac Rosenberg: Poems

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism. Scroll down to see all the content.

Break of Day in the Trenches

By Isaac Rosenberg

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.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver—what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in man’s veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe—
Just a little white with the dust.

 

Source: Rosenberg, I. (1916) Break of Day in the Trenches. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/13535/break-of-day-in-the-trenches


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