The theme of the poem ‘Asleep in the Valley is the futility and meaninglessness of war. Rimbaud, being himself a soldier had witnessed the horror of war, and in this poem, he has expressed the pity of war. The poem presents before us a picture of a soldier who is resting in a valley amongst the flowers and humming insects. With one hand on his chest, the soldier lies open-mouthed smiling like an innocent child. This serene picture suddenly turns into a brutal one when we find the ‘two red holes in his side. The bullet marks at the side of his body set the soldier in contrast with the whole landscape. The beauty of nature is abruptly changed because its warmth cannot revitalise the young soldier whose life is destroyed before it was fully bloomed. The recurrent image of the sun is perhaps the reminder of its incapability to revive the dead soldier. The valley signifies the landscape transformed into a valley of death. With all these symbols images the poet tries to show the futility of war which is the theme of this poem. The poem written in a sonnet pattern is a perfect lyric that actually presents war as an organised butchery of young lives.

“.they fill the hollow full of light.”- What is the ‘hollow’ referred to in the line? How does the hollow look? Who is lying in the hollow? How is he lying there?

The ‘hollow’ referred to in the line is the valley depicted in the poem “Asleep in the Valley”.

The ‘hollow’ is small but covered with greenery. It is surrounded with mountains. A stream flows through the valley making the grass look shiny. The sun’s rays coming from the mountaintop illuminate the valley. The flowers, bushes, plants, insects all contribute to the beauty of the valley in their own way.

A very young soldier is lying in the hollow among the bushes, plants and flowers.

He is lying in the valley open-mouthed. There is an innocent and gentle smile on his lips. His head is placed on a pillow made of ferns. His feet are covered with flowers. The bushes and plants of the valley serve as his bed. One of his hands is placed upon his chest. He is soaked in the bright light of the sun.

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