Anthem for Doomed Youth, 1917 by Wilfred Owen
Anthem for Doomed youth1
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 goodbyes.
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.
In October 1917 Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, a British soldier fighting World War I wrote a poem titled “Anthem for Doomed Youth”. Few would challenge the claim that Owen is the greatest war poet in the English language, and the poem I intend to analyze in this essay is considered his greatest literary accomplishment. As a soldier, Owen wrote with intense personal experience, this made his poetry extremely colorful, vivid and excruciatingly true. From the age of nineteen, Owen wished to become a poet. When he turned 20 he moved from his mother in England to become a tutor in France. Two years passed and the year was 1915, the war had been brewing for several years however it had finally broken out in 1914. Feeling pressured by war related propaganda, Wilfred left France to enlist in the British army. In the 15 months that Wilfred Owen served in the army, he managed to write 46 poems2 (mostly sonnets). The sonnet was introduced by the Italian poet Petrarch (1304-1374). A Petrarchan sonnet consists of a stanza with eight lines followed by a stanza with six lines. William Shakespeare later adopted the sonnet, however he changed form slightly. Shakespeare wrote three quatrains followed by a couplet. Owen wrote his sonnets in the Elizabethan...
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