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The poem “Dreamers” was written by Siegfrid Sassoon. It is a sonnet. The poem first appeared in Sassoon’s poetry collection named “Counter-Attack and Other Poems” in 1918. Through this poem, the poet has differentiated the life of soldiers. He describes how they long for a normal life in reality. He compares their profession to a lit filled with water.
About the Poet:
Siegfred Sassoon was born in September 1886. He was an English War Poet. Most of his poems focus on the reality of war and the lives of the soldiers. He is well known for his angry and compassionate poems on World war I. Despite being a poet, he was a novelist and political commentator. He received the “Queen’s Medal for Poetry” in 1957.
The poem “Dreamers” is a sonnet..It consists of fourteen lines. It is divided into octaves and sestet. In both the parts the poet describes the life of soldiers and the struggles and suffering they have in this profession.
The poet has written this poem using the regular iambic pentameter.
Sassoon is well known for his poems inspired from his experiences in World War I. The poems were published in three volumes: Picture-Show (1919), Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918), and The Old Huntsman (1917).
Sassoon participated in World War I. He left to fight in France. But in 1916, he returned to recover from an illness. During this time he developed ties to several pacifists, including Bertrand Russell. In June 1917 he wrote a statement protesting the war. The statement was read aloud in the House of Commons. But, the poet Robert Graves helped him avoid a court martial through a diagnosis of neurasthenia. As a result, he was hospitalised at the Craiglockhart War Hospital. During this time he started writing war poems depicting the lives of the soldiers. The “Dreamers” is one such poem.
Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land, Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows. In the great hour of destiny they stand, Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
In the first stana, the speaker is talking about the life of the soldiers. He says that the soldiers are the residents of a place that is meant for death. They are living their lives close to death. Their life is not providing anything for their future. Their life does not support them in either financial or mental ways. They are actually playing with their destiny, yet all of them have hidden their jealousy, sorrows in them. So, in this way they are connected to the realities of life.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives. Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.
The second stanza describes their nature of work. They just follow the orders. Their duty is to obey the commands and act accordingly. The people who command them, utilise their strength and win the battle at the climax at the cost of the soldier’s lives. In the last two lines of this stanza, the soldiers are compared to “dreamers”. When they are surrounded with guns in the battlefield they only think about their family members.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats, And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain, Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats, And mocked by hopeless longing to regain Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats, And going to the office in the train.
Now, the speaker says that the soldiers are situated in “foul dugouts”. They are struck in this pit being gnawed on by the rats. The pits are ruined. Most of the time the pit is filled with rain. Thus there is no way to escape from the pit. When a soldier feels that he is trapped in his mind’s dream about his happy childhood days where he spent his life happily. But, the vision actually mocks their reality. They actually long to get back to those days of bank holidays and movies. Actually the speaker says that the soldiers long for a normal and happy life but they are trapped in reality.