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The Break of Day - Isaac Rosenberg
This post follows up on Mike Schuster's The Great War Project report about Easter 2018 featured on the WWI Centennial News Podcast for April 6, 2018. In the context of the stalling German offensive in the spring of 2018, Schuster discussed the WWI British poet, Isaac Rosenberg, who died on Easter Sunday.
"Break of Day in the Trenches"
Isaac Rosenberg's "Break of Day in the Trenches" provides one of the most disturbing examples of the dark, macabre humor found in the later WWI poetry that sought to demystify the virtues of honor, glory, and patriotism associated with combat. The speaker in the poem –presumably a WWI soldier in the trenches– begins by conversing with a rat as he looks out to no man's land from the trenches with the rising dawn:
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.