“Anthem for Doomed Youth", a wartime Sonnet by Wilfred Owen The poem uses many techniques to convey its meaning. By our understanding of the use of these techniques, the poem becomes easier to understand and at the same time, more is revealed to us. Wilfred Owen was a soldier during WW1 and therefore gives us a firsthand experience of war. He was against war and was appalled by the effects of war on people and their families.
By using a sonnet for the structure of his poem, Wilfred Owen introduces a touch of irony. The conventional function for a sonnet is love, but this poem has a sort of anti-love, or rather, a love that turns bad. The young male population have so much patriotic love, and are so eager to serve, but this love turns sour. They spend time rotting in the wastes of the trenches, only to be mown down in the blink of an eye by a machine-gun. Not only are their lives wasted, gone without the holy rite of a funeral, but the lives of their loved ones at home are also ruined.
The technique of comparison is used a lot in this poem. Owen explores the monstrosity of war in various examples of comparison. The boys "die as cattle," this conveys the idea that the young men going to war is the same as cattle going to a slaughter house to be killed. With no real purpose but to be mindlessly massacred. Through personification, the guns responsible for taking so much human life are made out to be monstrous, even evil. The poem also likens their deaths to a funeral, but one where the bells are shots, and the mourning choirs are the army's bugles. The drawing down of the blinds, the traditional sign to show that the family is in mourning, has been likened to the drawing of a sheet to cover the dead.
Through various literary techniques, Wilfred Owen enhances the meaning of the poem. The title itself has significant use of assonance, "Doomed Youth." The sound is intended to be drawn out, long and melancholy, as melancholy as the subject of war itself....
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