Break of Day in the Trenches Poem Analysis

Break of Day in the Trenches Poem Analysis
Break of Day in the Trenches Poem Analysis

Break of Day in The Trenches Poem



          “Break of day in the Trenches” is a poem, composed by ‘Isaac Rosenberg’, the great war poet during the modern age. This poem is an illustration of the futility of war and the folly of the persons who are engaged in the first world war (1914-1918). Rosenberg himself is fighting in the war as a soldier. Showing the futility of war Rosenberg says,

“Nothing Can Justify War.”

            This poem was written in 1916. It is a stream-of-consciousness narrative that takes the reader into the deepest, most desolate parts of World War I. Rosenberg wrote it in 1916. In this poem, he makes a subtle comparison between human beings and rats through the medium of the soldiers in the trenches. The War is between the German and the English.

            In the poem “Break of day in the Trenches”, Rosenberg makes a subtle comparison between human beings and rats through the medium of the soldiers in the Trenches. The rat which is o 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 World War I imagery, here acts as a reminder of the English and German’s common humanity, even in times of war.

About Isaac Rosenberg

            Issac Rosenberg is known as a great English trench Poet. His poem from the Trenches is recognized as some of the most outstanding poetry written during the First World War (1914-1918). He was only 28 when he died. He was killed while fighting in World War I. Among his world-famous war poems included – ‘Dead Man’s Dump’, On Receiving News of the War’,  ‘August 1914’, ‘Break of the Day in the Trenches’, ‘God’ and ‘The Jew’. He wrote, “I never joined the army for Patriotic reasons.”

Structure of the Poem

            The poem “Break Of Day In The Trenches” is written in a long stanza consisting of 26 lines. It does not follow a particular rhyme scheme or a specific rhythmic pattern. So the poem is written in “free verse”.

The theme of the Poem

  • The Horrors of War
  • The Irrationality of War
  • The Un-Idealizing of War
  • The Devastation of War

Summary of the Poem

            As the soldier was about to build the wall in the trenches, he was touched by the live rat whose cosmopolitan sympathies he appreciated. The rat touches the English hand and will even touch the hand of German Soldiers. It does not make discrimination between friends and enemies, this and that, mine and yours, and many others. Human beings are even inferior to rats in the sense that they make the discrimination. Human discrimination is a responsible factor behind the war. Human beings are so pervasive and hateful that they even shoot the rat if they knew abut its fair attitude. They transfer their mutual hatred for each other onto the rat.

            The speaker invites the rat to look at these eyes where the iron, flame, and aghast heart dominate. The human eye should be full of love, affection kindness, and benevolence. But unfortunately, those human virtues have been replaced by cruelty, hatred, a service of revenge, and the desire for mutual destruction. The speaker feels inferior to the rat for not being able to maintain universal sympathies like him.

            Next Speaker comments on human nature using the image of the flower poppies. Poppies have roots in human veins means to say it symbolically stands for humanity. The speaker further complains that “Poppies whose roots are in man’s veins” are dropping day by day. People are the flower standing for humanity. But the humanist flower has been gradually dropping flower. But the humanist flower has been gradually dropping flower. But the poem raises hope with the speaker’s claim that his poppy is safe for just a little while. Despite being a soldier, he is aware of human degeneration and this awareness is the source of hope.

            On the one hand, the Poppy is the symbol of hope in the poem. But on the next hand, it is the symbol of war, especially its redness stands for the blood of the dead bodies of the soldiers in the battle. The whitening of the dust on the poppy signifies the process of the dying of the poppy which metaphorically means the upcoming death of the poetic persona.


          Thus, we can say that “Break of the Day in Trenches” is recognized as the most admired poem of the First World War by ‘Issac Rosenberg’. The everyday horror of the war and the sentiments of the soldiers’ are expressed very well without any sentimentality.

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