Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967)

136 Study Questions, Activities, and Resources

Study Questions and Activities

General Question

  1. Interestingly, Sassoon was entitled to write the initials M.C. after his name. What do these initials stand for? (Hint: it doesn’t mean “master of ceremonies.”)


  1. What does the image in line 8 of Stanza 2 describe? One critic is reminded of the Goya painting The Colossus, which described another war scene (the Peninsular War). What do you think?
  2. Note that in the published version of the poem (Collected Poems: 1908-1956, Faber), the lines 7-13 are indented. What is the effect or purpose of this indentation?

The Death-Bed

  1. What is the poem’s setting? See stanza 3.

Does It Matter?

  1. Who is talking?
  2. What type of irony—situational, dramatic or verbal, pervades the poem?
  3. What are the dreams from the pit?
  4. What is the poem’s theme?

Base Details

  1. Identify the speaker.
  2. Why are the majors “scarlet”?
  3. Give all noun and adjective meanings for “base.” Eliminate those that are clearly unintended.
  4. Define “details.”
  5. Why did Sassoon use the word “scrap” and not “battle”?
  6. What is the effect of the spondaic foot (aka spondee) at line 9?
  7. Why did Sassoon use the word “toddle” in line 10?

Essay Questions

In a brief essay, discuss how irony contributes to theme in “Does It Matter?”

How does diction contribute to theme in “Base Details”?

Contrast Sassoon’s early war poem “Absolution” with any of his poems in the Oxford tutorial or from Counter-Attack and Other Poems (Project Bartleby) 

Pay particular attention to diction.



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English Literature: Victorians and Moderns Copyright © 2014 by James Sexton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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