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Kaitlyn Brasher


By Siegfried Sassoon

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.
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.

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.
The only people who truly know what war is are those who experience it and it is

hard for the general public to fully understand what those in the war go through. In

Siegfried Sassoons poem, Dreamers, the poems structure and rhyme scheme are

vital in portraying the harsh realities of war that normal individuals do not see in their

everyday lives. Sassoons imagery help readers picture what life was like in the

trenches and how it affected the way soldiers responded to certain situations that arose.

Sassoon uses the petrarchan sonnet structure where his first eight lines, often

referred to as the octave, propose an argument and his final six lines, known as the

sestet, respond or answer the arguments question. He does not follow the same rhyme

scheme that a petrarchan sonnet would normally use though. In a traditional petrarchan

sonnet the rhyme scheme follows the a b b a a b b a pattern; Sassoons rhyme

scheme follows the a b a b c d c d pattern. This rhyme scheme gives the poem a

sing-song feel and makes it easier for the reader.

Throughout the entire poem Sassoon uses imagery to provide a picture of what

war really was, not what the public had made it up to be. He uses phrases such as

...foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,... (Line 9) and ...ruined trenches, lashed with rain,...

(Line 10) to invoke a sense of fear and rid the brain of previous images of what they

thought trench warfare was. Sassoon had been in these soldiers shoes and he wanted

to reveal what really went on during the war. His experiences influenced many of his

works and upset a lot of people with the way he spoke of the cruelties of the war.

Sassoon did not always use harsh imagery through this poem though, he also

referenced the things the soldiers dreamed of while they were in the trenches. They
think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives. (Line 8) reveals what a soldier would really

want when in the middle of a stressful battle. He wants others to know that they he is

just like everyone else in the world. This line could apply to anyone who works in the

real world, everyone dreams of being in their own home surrounded by the ones they

love. Sassoon wanted his readers to know that soldiers were just regular people who

happened to carry different burdens.

One of the main themes of this poem is longing for a sense of normalcy.

Sassoon wants to portray soldiers in a light that helps others understand what they truly

long for in life. These soldiers want to have the things that normal people do, ...firelit

homes, clean beds, and wives (line 8). In bringing the lives of soldiers to life Sassoon,

others can see how the war affects a soldier and his family. Every man who leaves his

home to defend his country wants to leave as soon as they can and get back to their

normal life. It may be their job, but they to want to be with the ones they love.

War is a heavy subject to cover, yet Sassoon finds his inspiration in these men

and the experiences he went through with them. He sheds light on a topic that most are

left in the dark about and helps them understand what really happens on the battlefield.

Sassoon makes the reader think about what they truly know about a soldiers life and

how they learn to face the hard circumstances they come up against.