Anthem to Dead Youth

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Anthem to Dead Youth

What passing bells for you who die in herds?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns!
- Only the stuttering rifles' rattled words
Can patter out your hasty orisons
No chants for you, nor balms, nor wreaths, nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning, save the choirs,
And long-drawn sighs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for you from sad shires.

What candles may we hold to speed you all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy lights of long good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows must be your pall;
Your flowers, the tenderness of comrades' minds,
And every dusk, a drawing-down of blinds.

(DRAFT)

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
-Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

(FINAL VERSION) -Wilfred Owen

NOTES ON DIFFERNCES, INTERPRETATION AND COMMENTARY:

The change from 'dead' to 'doomed' links 'doomed' and 'youth' through verse, tying the two concepts more closely together. The presupposition of 'doomed' is also more moving. Dead youths must already be dead, but doomed youths are not yet dead but doomed to die. A textual world is thus set up where the persona is walking through the battlefield, talking about not just those who have died, but also those who are in the process of dying and those who are soon to die.

In the first version of the poem, the use of 'you' suggests that the author is...
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