Charles Sorley’s To Germany and Rupert Brookes Peace

Both writers in their poems present different arguments about war. Charles Sorley was an early anti war poet, although never had the courage to defy war. In contrast Rupert Brooke, was very patriotic, writing passionately about how romantic war is, and having a far more emotional approach to war due to his many stormy relationships. The difference in the two writers attitudes to war is clearly reflected throughout their poems. The title of Sorley’s poem “To Germany” is a direct response to Germany, although not a critical one.

The subject matter show that Sorely does not want to fight, and is confused as to why he is “We stumble and we do not understand”. This reflected many men’s beliefs about the war, for many men were against it, but felt a sense of duty to their country to fight. Sorley’s attitudes toward the Germans shows no animosity and when peace breaks out, he hopes the two sides and come together and be friends “When it is peace, then we may view again With new-won eyes each other’s truer form”.

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In contrast the title of Brookes poem is more ironic as the reader would expect a poem about peace but instead Brooke portrays the war as being a thrilling experience “who has matched us with his hour”. He is not addressing the issue of peace at all, but instead chooses glorify dying for England. One major difference between the writers is the time of which they wrote these poems. Brooke wrote peace when he was yet to fight at the front. He had little battle experience of France and died on his way to France on board a ferry due to a mosquito bite.

He had no realistic idea of the war and only had the preconceived notions that he would come out of it a hero. Sorely however wrote “To Germany” whilst he was in the trenches. Unlike Brooke he had been along the front line and had seen men die, therefore he was not disillusioned as Brooke was. This could be a possible explanation as to why the difference in the attitudes to war. Brooke had never really experienced it and if he was to live long enough, he might have been able to write less romantically about it.

Since Sorley was in the main parts of the war, along the front of the battle of the loos, then he was able to give a more reliable and realistic attitude representative of all the men along the front. The structure of the poems is very similar. Both use two stanzas, consisting of 8 lines and then 6 lines. This makes the poems very lyrical, which could reflect Sorley’s attitude towards friendship for the Germans, and also Brooke’s romantic style. The rhyming scheme of both poems is very interesting.

Brooke chooses to use a simple ABAB rhyming scheme, which matches the lyrical flow of the poem. Brooke liked to favour this with many of his poems because stylistically it was more romantic, making the war sound a more pleasant experience. Brooke believed with the war, would come glory and heroism, which is reflected a lot in the structure of his poems which is very traditionally laid out. In contrast Sorely prefers to use a more jumpy rhyme scheme. The words in the first stanza end in harsher “D” letters, expressing anger or reflecting hatred of the war.

The second stanza ends in gentler letters such as “m” and “n” which could represent Sorley talking about peace and friendship of the two sides coming together. The language that the two poets use also reflects their attitudes towards the war. Sorley uses a simile in the beginning of his poem “you are blind like us”. The effect of using a simile here, shows how similar the two sides really are. Sorely wanted to show that the German troops are just as human as they are.

Many of the soldiers fighting in the war where surprised to see that some of the German soldiers were young, and innocent looking, and it made them realise that the two sides are no different. Sorely recognised that, unlike Brooke who had not yet experienced enough of the war to understand that the Germans were not evil. Instead Brooke focused on the fact that it was good to die for ones country and those who did not were cowards “leave the sick hearts that honour could not move”. He had no compassion for the enemy or cowards. Both writers similarly use list like forms to express their attitudes towards the war.

Sorley does so to show the difference between peace and fighting “but until peace, the storm, the darkness, the thunder, the rain”. This gives the poem a very downbeat pace and tone, showing how much the soldiers want peace instead of going back to fighting. Similarly Brooke also uses a list in a contrasting way to Sorley, “grown old, cold and weary”. Also in this is an internal rhyme, which is a technique, used to create a faster pace in a poem. This could reflect how excited Brooke was because he saw war as a thrilling experience.

Because of the different attitudes the poets have to war, they also present the war in very different ways. Brooke’s poem is far more concentrated on the glory and heroism, which come from fighting in the war. He thanks God for the war in the beginning of the poem “wakened us from sleeping with hand made sure, clear eye and sharpened power”. This sentence is making the soldiers out to be invincible and powerful, even though the reality of it is that many of the soldiers were innocent young boys. Brooke calls those who do not fight in the war “sick hearts that honour could not move”.

The emphasis upon joining up is the honour that the soldiers will receive from doing so. I believe that, Brooke is writing in a far more romantic way particularly at the end where he glorifies dying “and the worst friend and enemy is but Death”. Brooke purposely puts “Death” in a capital letter, showing it to be important, reflecting the importance of dying for ones country. In contrast Sorley presents peace as more glorious in “To Germany”. He shows the impact that peace would have “When it is peace, then we may view again with new-won eyes each other’s truer form”.

Sorley shows that after the war no grudges will be held between the two sides because he recognises how they are so similar to him. Sorley dreams of what peace would be like “We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain”. He glorifies the fact that both sides can become friends and laugh about the war when it is over, making peace appear harmonious and too good to be true. Both writers have different reasons behind why they write in the manner they do. Sorley has been to the front line and has seen the destruction of war, and what is has done to his friends and comrades.

All him and his troops dream of is peace, and they recognise the fact that the men they are killing are no different to them “and the blind fight the blind”. Brooke however has been taken in by all the propaganda writing of glory and honour when you fight in the war, and he had no previous experience of what is was actually like. Therefore he writes about how he imagines it to be, how he will come back a hero, and if he dies then he will have died for the right cause. For these reasons, the men show they have different attitudes towards the war.