I receive a daily email from the website Interesting Literature. Five interesting things that happened on this day, five things you may not have known about a writer or a book. Last week, there was a post on their list of the ten war poems they think everyone should read. They limited it to WWI &, although there were several of my favourites in the list, there were also a few I didn’t know, including this one, Dreamers, by Siegfried Sassoon. It’s a quiet poem, with none of the rage that infuses his best-known work. I love the image of soldiers dreaming of home & normality while they’re in the middle of the most horrendous, unnatural period of their lives.
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.