Poem introduction

[Dennis Silk] I was just a pleasure-loving, games-playing oaf, who had few profound thoughts about anything. But to hear about that war at first hand from a man of that calibre was an extraordinary piece of education. It was a piece of education I badly needed. And I think in a way it was helpful to him - because he was still in 1953 having nightmares of life in the trenches. He said to me often that it had helped him to unload those things on someone who was anxious to hear about it and who was sympathetic.

The Dug-Out

Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled.
And one arm bent across your sullen, cold,
Exhausted face? It hurts my heart to watch you,
Deep-shadow'd from the candle's guttering gold;
And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder;
Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head...
You are too young to fall asleep for ever;
And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.



from Collected Poems 1908-1956 (Faber & Faber, 1961), © 1918, 1920 by E. P. Dutton, © 1936, 1946, 1947, 1948 by Siegfried Sassoon, by permission of Barbara Levy as agent for George Sassoon and of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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