NAPOLEON shifted,
Restless in the old sarcophagus
And murmured to a watchguard:
“Who goes there?”
“Twenty-one million men,
Soldiers, armies, guns,
Twenty-one million
Afoot, horseback,
In the air,
Under the sea.”
And Napoleon turned to his sleep:
“It is not my world answering;
It is some dreamer who knows not
The world I marched in
From Calais to Moscow.”
And he slept on
In the old sarcophagus
While the aeroplanes
Droned their motors
Between Napoleon’s mausoleum
And the cool night stars.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

7 Comments

  1. Mrs Fell says:

    kasi, the “dreamer” is a word that is used as a symbol for future military leaders…so I also agree with jhomer95. Because Sandburg wrote this at the beginning of WWI…one of the military leaders was von Bismark.

  2. kasi frideres says:

    where does it say anything about otto or hitler

  3. jhomer95 says:

    I agree with sky, but he is only partially right. The poem was written before WWII, but it was written at the beginning of WWI. It’s more likely that it’s Otto von Bismark, not Hitler.

  4. jimmy says:

    I agree with sky. check your spelling!!!

  5. Emy says:

    I believe that in this poem the author was trying to say that the world that the watchgaurd was telling Napoleon about [and in his poem Napoleon is dead] is the world of a dreamer to Napolean, because he himself has never seen the way war has changed the world. He’s never seen such large armies.

  6. brooke says:

    I think this poem is confusing.

  7. sky says:

    in this poem, i believe that Carl is showing that Napoleon, (now deceased) is aware of WWII. The dreamer is Hitler, because he dreams to take over the worls, just as Napoleon did, so they are alike in this way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem better? If they are accepted, they will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.