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Jesse's Letter to Siegfried Sassoon
By Jesse Alleva
Genre: Non-fiction Level: Junior 7-9
Year: 2001 Category: Letters About Literature

Dear Siegfried Sassoon,

You might not be aware of just how many lives have been touched by your poetry. My grandfather told me that your poetry was a great comfort and inspiration to soldiers fighting in the war. You have also inspired someone else, me. To me your poetry combines the best of humankind with the worst by describing the things humans do to each other like the legalized murder called war.

Jesse AllevaI wasn't aware of your work until I watched an Indiana Jones movie. You are to be complimented for the way your writings flow so gracefully even though it was written in the mud-filled trenches of war. With many battles raging on, I find it amazing that you could come up with some of the best poetry I have ever read.

Your poems came to me in a peculiar way. My grandfather, who was in World War I and II, came to visit me in Alaska about a year ago. He brought along his Bible. It is a leather, pocket-sized one with stains of unknown origin. He always had it with him and I came to know this book very well.

One night, I asked him if I could look at it. Always aware of my curiosity, he gladly handed me the Bible. I skimmed the Bible eagerly. Halfway through, a small piece of paper fell out. It was old and looked like it was in the same condition as the Bible itself. I picked up the paper and read the poorly handwritten words. It has the words "Siegfried Sassoon" written at the top.

My grandfather is a generous man and he gave me the Bible before he left. He left before I got a chance to ask him about the poem. I wrote him a letter to which he replied that he always loved the poem, "Dreamers." This was the title of the poem in the Bible. He said he first heard it on the way back to America after World War II had ended.

I read the poem every night. It inspired me to volunteer at the Veteran's Center and work for some other charities. Following your point of view, I believe you were correct in your poems about the brutality and stupidity of war. I now look at war in a different way. I used to think that war could be somewhat helpful to the fields of science, medicine, and technology, but I was wrong. How can we weigh the lives of soldiers with information? That, to me, seems stupid.

Your poems have also changed my writing life. I now write poems about war and I am a fanatic about reading them, too. Your poetry has helped me to "think" about important things in my life.

I am still faced with questions that your poems can't seem to answer. I have read your biography and I found out that your brother died fighting in World War I. It says you enrolled in the British Army and participated in suicide missions against Germany. How could you write poetry with such rage? What exactly did you mean in the poem, "Dreamers," by "having no dividends of time tomorrow?"

I hope that your poems have changed other lives like they have mine. I hope someday to meet you in some other place beyond this world. I believe you are correct that the futility of any country to attack or declare war is the most terrible sin in the world. I promise I will continue to spread the word about the peace we need to attain. I believe we are all dreamers in a nightmare of reality. People don't want to fight and men want to stay at home with their families and not kill one another.

Your poems help me and others take a stand against war and I thank you for that.

Jesse Alleva
8th Grade
Romig Middle School, Anchorage, Alaska
Teacher: Ms. Lauri Packebush

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