This poem is composed by two stanzas.
Sassoon’s poem shows an anti-military feeling presented by a strong irony. This poem opens with a dispassionate tone , but he uses irony and finally hits with the realities of war. In the first stanza there are abstract high-flown terms referring to the idealization of war and the courage of the soldiers as “just causes” (line 3), “attack on Anti-Christ” . In the second stanza the real consequences when the soldiers come back to the war are described by concrete down-to-earth terms that highlight the horror of war: “lost his legs” and “blind” (line 8), “shot through the lungs and like to die” (line 9), “gone syphilitic” (line 10). The second stanza belongs to the first because it’s the young soldiers’ answer to the Bishop’s speech in the first stanza, highlighting that war is far from what he described. In the poem there is a figure which is represented like an ironical figure, the Bishop, who in final sentence he tries to justify the meaning of the not so positive consequences of the war to the soldiers: “The ways of God are strange!” (line 12).
The speech devices in this poem are: alliteration (sound B in line 1 “When the boys come back” and sound F in line 2 “for they’ll have fought”), metaphor (in line 3 “just cause” refers to war and “Anti-Christ” in line 4 refers to Germany, the enemy), personification (in line 6 “him” refers to Death).