Study Guide

Does it Matter? Eating and Drinking Imagery

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Eating and Drinking Imagery

Even though it's about going blind and losing one's legs, this poem doesn't forget about life's necessitates: eating and drinking. People aren't sitting around the table chatting over dinner, however. While it seems like somebody that has lost their legs should still be able to eat, it is only those who can still hunt—i.e., who still have legs—who are shown eating. So maybe eating, then, symbolizes all those things one can no longer do as a result of such a loss. Drinking, on the other hand, is apparently the only thing that the soldier can do. And it sure sounds like the speaker means drinking alcohol, not water; in a way, then, a soldier ends up finding solace in a bottle, which is really no solace at all.

  • Line 4: The speaker describes people returning from a hunting trip (people often eat what they hunt). Hunting here symbolizes something the soldier can no longer do.
  • Line 5: The people who've just been hunting "gobble their muffins and eggs." The soldier does not eat; eating here is also a symbol of all the things the soldier can no longer do. Sure, he could gobble a muffin if he wanted to, but he's probably not all that hungry, having not worked up an appetite on the hunt. 
  • Line 12: The speaker says the soldier can "drink and be glad." Well, we totally agree with the first part—a soldier can definitely drink. But can he be glad? Maybe for a moment, but forgetting your woes at the bottom of a bottle is really just a band-aid for a gaping wound. This line also points to a common occurrence among shell-shocked vets: alcoholism.

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