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The Hero

This study guide will help you analyse the poem “The Hero” (1917) by Siegfried Sassoon. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) was an English poet and writer. He served during the First World War and was decorated for bravery. Most of his poems are about his experience during the war. In his poems, he does not glorify the war, but rather describes the horrors of it and provides a satire of those who idealize it.  His poem “The Hero” was included in the book Collected Poems 1908-1956.

Extract

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Inner composition

The poem "The Hero” by Siegfried Sassoon has a linear composition and reads like a narrative, with a plot. It describes a visit paid by the Brother Officer to the mother of one of his fallen soldiers, Jack. 

We can say that the poem is made of two contrasting parts. The shift from one to another is made by a change in the rhyming pattern. 

In the first stanza, the mother reads the letter from the Colonel, and politely compliments his writing. From her reaction, we understand that she is grieving but tries not to show it: “Something broke / In the tired voice that quavered to a choke” (ll. 3-4). She declares that the mothers of dead soldiers are proud of their sons. The atmosphere in the first stanza is grave and solemn. It is the mother’s perspective of the situation, but it is seen through the eyes of the Officer who brings the letter. So far, the first stanza seems to confirm the expectations presented by the title, “The Hero”. The mother is told her son died a hero and she is therefore proud of him.

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The Hero

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