Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Soldier’ and Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘Does it Matter’ are both 20th century poems based around the subject of World War 1. Rupert Brooke was an English poet known for his idealistic, patriotic and romanticised views on war and in turn ‘The Soldier’ expresses a peaceful, glorified and extremely patriotic side of war. ‘Does it Matter’ however is very different; one may interpret it as a sarcastic, scornful poem mocking and pitying disabled. However, it can also be interpreted as a kind, forgiving poem where the injured are depicted as lonely heroes of war.
In the poem ‘Does it Matter?’ Sassoon sets a very sarcastic and almost mocking tone. He implies that losing your legs or your sights doesn’t matter as everyone is kind and no one will be mean towards you. However, this could not be further from the truth; of course losing your legs matters, as it is a very significant and tragic thing to happen to a person, and so alone the title is sarcastic, as if he is mocking the men who would be foolish enough to ‘lose their legs’ implying that it is their fault and they now have to live with the consequences. He says ‘there’s such splendid work for the blind’ splendid means impressive or superb which is untrue and blown out of proportion. He says work ‘for’ the blind, which means they will work for him, not with him; ‘with’ being and word meaning aided or helped. It’s as if he is laughing at him, mocking him because he has gone from a powerful young soldier; able to fight for his country, to a disabled helpless man; unable to even care for himself. I also think the tone could be interpreted as a hopeless sad poem, as if once you’ve lost your legs or sight, you’ve lost everything and there is no point in life anymore; you are useless. That you have no control of what is going to happen to you anyway, so you might as well just ‘drink and forget and be glad’. ‘Does it matter?-losing your legs?’ is acrimonious and rhetorical as Sassoon evidently knows the response to that question. Sassoon uses platitude frequently in ‘Does it Matter’. The tone for ‘The Soldier’, however, is completely different. This poem is a sonnet, a love poem. A motherly love for England, not a romantic love, it uses words like ‘gave’, ‘bore’ and ‘shaped’ to imply this. There is a strong sense of patriotic love for his country, Brooke sees England as a dominant country; that it is the best. In the poem he is remembering England to the full extent of her glory saying ‘her sights her sounds’, ‘dreams as happy as her day’ and ‘And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, in hearts at peace, under an English heaven,’ In the last quote the word ‘under’ could be ambiguous because it might demonstrate that England is above all other countries, by calling England ‘Heaven’ ends the poem in a patriotic way. Both Brooke and Sassoon use the word ‘dream’ in variable contexts. Brooke says “Her sights and sounds; dream happy as her day,” implying that England metaphorically is a dream, a brilliant country to be extremely proud of. Sassoon, in antithesis however, says “those dreams from the pit?” the pit relates to trenches, this could also be a metaphor for hell. The trenches were a living hell for him and he gives the impression that he has had nightmares of the horrendous action he has witnessed.
The rhyming structure is crucial in these poems as it displays how it all fits together. The first stanza of 'The Soldier' is A,B,A,B,C,D,C,D and the second stanza is A,B,C,A,B,C. This is showing that all the lines rhyme and it makes the poem flow more so it seems peaceful and soothing. ‘The Solder’ is written in sonnet form which adds a more sing-song feel to it. Brooke has used internal rhyme in the first sonnet so ‘me’, ‘field’, ‘be’ and ‘concealed’ all rhyme. The first and second stanzas of ‘The Soldier’