Wilfred Owen's poem, "Anthem for Doomed Youth", creates a picture of young soldiers in battle dying. Drawing a mental picture of a family at home sharing in the mourning for their lost sibling, the reader feels the grief of this poem. Through the portrait of vanishing soldiers one sees loneliness, as they die alone on the battleground. Effective use of imagery, alliteration, and end rhyme as well as great writing gives the reader a lasting impression.
The title, "Anthem for Doomed Youth", fits well for this poem. For the duration of the poem a feeling of death and despair run through the reader's mind. Though one cannot tell exactly which war the poem stands for, one can hypothesize that it stands for World War I because of the type of warfare the speaker discusses. He discusses machine guns, rifles, and artillery shells falling from the sky like rain which most parallels World War I. This image of soldiers dying due to heavy artillery appears most in the mind of the reader. Feckless soldiers dive into the muck of trenches to save themselves from the "wailing shells" (7) that "shrill" (7) over them. Reading this poem puts one in World War I through the great imagery of the speaker; one feels as if he is diving to keep away from the artillery. Titling this poem seems simple since the entire sonnet informs the reader of the hopeless situation for the young soldiers. Praying soldiers "die as cattle" (1) with no "passing-bells" (1) as "their hasty orisons" (4) die with them. An interpretation of this is that if one "[dies] as cattle" (1) they are dying as animals and dying with no "passing-bells" (1) means there are no mourning bells which exist at funerals. "Hasty orisons" (4) means quick prayers which in the sonnet makes them the quick prayers before the soldiers are shot; so if "their hasty orisons" (4) are "[pattered] out", then they have no prayers. The speaker's diction here sets the gloomy tone and setting throughout the poem.
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