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, 5
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 10
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.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
"Anthem for Doomed Youth" was set in World War I. This poem concentrates mainly on the horror of war, and especially the death of young men on the front line.
The main subject of the poem is of a funeral. The poem asks if there will be a funeral for them. It is saying that all of these boys are dying and not even getting a respectable funeral. What real funeral will the boys have? No passing bells will ring for the dead; just machine gun and rifle fire. No mourning voice - except for "choirs of wailing shells and bugles calling." Their families are not even there; they are still at home, waiting and worrying. In the end of the poem, the family gets the news of their son's death. The blinds are drawn as a sign of mourning (it was the custom during World War I to draw down the blinds in homes where a son had been lost).
The title "Anthem for Doomed Youth" is ironic. 'Anthem' is a song that is sung in...