Anthem for a Doomed Youth
Wilfred Owen wrote Anthem for a Doomed Youth in 1917 with himself as the speaker. Owen wrote the sonnet shortly after World War I, so the reader can assume that Owen intended said war as the occasion, and the boys who fought it as the audience. This sonnet emulates Petrarchan structure and rhyme scheme in an attempt to establish its purpose. Owen’s purpose strays, almost ironically, from the common purpose of sonnets of conveying love, seeing as young men fighting a gruesome war doesn’t exactly emit love like characteristics. Owen wrote Anthem for a Doomed Youth with the purpose of showing those who die in war often die horrible deaths and do not receive proper funeral or ritual. Like most Petrarchan poets, Owen divides his sonnet into two parts, the octave and the sestet. The octave demonstrates the horrors of war from the soldiers; perspective. As a soldier hospitalized while recovering from shell shock, Owen had a very much first hand account of such horrors. The first line of the poem uses simile to compare the soldiers dying to “those who die as cattle.” The simile provides the unfortunate assertion that soldiers have no more importance than cattle, and as cattle die via slaughter so do they. Already, Owen abhors the treatment of soldiers and establishes the negative mood that will exist through the remainder of the poem. Owen then delivers further imagery so as to firmly place the reader in the same trenches as the soldiers by describing the “monstrous anger of the guns” and the “stuttering rifles rapid rattle.” He then goes on to state that where should exist “passing bells” instead does said guns and rifles. The gunshots serve as the dead soldiers’ “orisons” or prayers. He states that the rifles are stuttering, much like a child stutters while praying. Owen uses simile to liken the soldiers to animals, and personification to liken the weapons to people. The second portion of the octave presents further exemplifies the...
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