Rosenberg, Isaac. "Break of Day in the Trenches".
Summary and Analysis
- the author was also a painter: a series of strikingly beautiful yet profoundly melancholic visual images ("Poppies whose roots are in man's veins", etc.)
- the speaker briefly establishes the setting (morning in the trenches in France), is interrupted by "a queer sardonic rat" leaping on his hand, and succumbs into a series of musings about the position of the rat versus the position of the man in war
- the rat seems to "inwardly grin" at the speaker who addresses it and considers that it can remain indifferent to nationalities (touches the English hand as it would touch a German one), can cross the battle lines, and is more apt for survival than man
- the speaker's sad jealousy x his concluding temporary satisfaction about his having a poppy safely stuck behind his ear (the same poppy compared to man's blood in preceding lines)
AuthorRosenberg, Isaac. (1890 - 1918).
Full Title"Break of Day in the Trenches".
Rosenberg, Isaac. "Break of Day in the Trenches". The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M. H. Abrams. NY: Norton, 1993.