Does it Matter?
by Siegfried Sassoon
This poem is about a soldier, but it is also about other people that he meets when he gets home from the battlefield; they are shown doing everything he can't (eating, hunting), but they also seem to be pretty insensitive. They don't seem to care about the soldier or his wounds, which makes us wonder if other people aren't just as much to blame for a soldier's post-war life as the battlefield itself.
- Line 2: The speaker says "people will always be kind." Uh, since when, buddy? We assume he's being ironic here, as in this stanza the others don't really seem to acknowledge the soldier in the slightest. So much for kind.
- Lines 4-5: The "others come in after hunting" to eat breakfast. "Hunting" and eating are here symbols of things that the soldier cannot do, and yet the other people do them with relish—right in front of our poor speaker.
- Line 8: Why in the world does the speaker keep saying that "people will always be kind," when it's very clear that the opposite is true? Sure, he's just being ironic, but it also points to just how desperate the situation of war vets is—they have nowhere to turn because people just don't quite understand what they've been through. Sure, they'll be fine, but they'll still go about their daily business as if nothing has changed and nothing is wrong.
- Line 13: Thank goodness, people won't say that the soldier is "mad." Like lines 2 and 8, this is ironic or absurd that the speaker—or those he's poking fun of—thinks this will somehow make everything all better.
- Lines 14-15: Once people realize that the soldier fought for his country, nobody will worry about him anymore. But does the speaker really think this? Or is he being scathing toward all the other folks on the homefront who really do seem to feel this way?