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Write a guided literary analysis on the following poem.

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, 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.

Wilfred Owen

1) What is the attitude of Wilfred Owen in 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' towards war? How is that conveyed in the poem?

2) What is the tone of the first and second stanzas ?

In the poem Anthem for Doomed Youth, it was clearly evident that Wilfred Owen disliked the very idea of war. In stanza 1, he compares the people who died in the war to cattle, which are slaughtered mercilessly in abattoirs. To him, there is no purpose in fighting a losing battle and eventually, nobody would recognize or remember the people who sacrificed himself or herself during the war as the rest are too caught up in the war itself. In line 2, he employs the use of personification when he states the monstrous anger of the guns. The effect that this line has on the reader is the idea of the amount of mass destruction guns can bring upon humankind once fallen into the wrong hands. The guns will release their anger without differentiating between the innocent and the guilty. The deafening sounds of guns and rifles have also made the rushed prayers made by the victims of the war inaudible. This personification contributes to the harshness of the images and creates auditory images for the reader. The reader can hear the sensory images. Besides that, wailing shells gives a human expression to an inanimate object and helps the reader to think of the horrible, loud screams released by the bombs used in war. However, these images are also set directly against religious imagery, to further emphasize the destructiveness of war. The passing bells, prayers, choirs, and candles emphasize the preciousness of human life. Wilfred Owen may also have suggested that even religion is not enough to save the people from the horror of war. This tone is implied by the fact that the prayers and bells are put against worlds like mockeries The use of hasty orisons also indicates some disrespect towards religion itself. Onomatopoeia was used as well with words like patter and rattle. This helps the reader listen and imagine the sounds produced by rifles and guns in a war. In lines 5 and 6, repetition is rather prominent when Wilfred Owen continuously begins with No. It emphasizes that the war has killed many people on both sides of the war. There is now no one to mock the dead on both sides, no one to pray and no one to lament upon the misfortunes caused by the war. All that is left is the continuous stream of sounds of the guns and the trumpets instructing the gunmen fire to from afar. The phrase sad shires suggests that this poem may have taken place in a county in England. In stanza 2, candles signify a ray of light amidst darkness. It represents an idea of a fragile hope, which is only temporary as the candles may be blown out any time. However, that is the only hope, which the young warriors have to drive them on in this war till the end. To the boys,

the war is not won by their physical capabilities or skills but it is more of the passion that fuels their fight. They are prepared to die in glory as they have strong faith in their cause. Another interpretation of line 11 is that people pray for the safe return of these warriors who marched out to win the war. There is a stark contrast in the next line of the stanza when the speaker mentions the pale and unhealthy appearances of the girls. It may be caused by tiredness, lack of sleep or lack of food, which may have induced this effect. If the girls continue with their current state, death will be their ultimate destination. Nevertheless, they have faith and patience in waiting for the war to end. The speaker compares the wait for the war to end to waiting for flowers to bloom, which requires endurance and persistence. Last but not least, the speaker uses the phrase slow dusk to imply how every day is a long battle and time passes by slowly till night comes. When the night curtain falls, everyone retires back to their camps in preparation of the battle for the next day. The use of drawing down of blinds is a form of visual imagery. It helps the reader imagine that the day has draw to an end and it is time to rest for everyone before beginning a new day. Wilfred Owens Anthem for Doomed Youth has a tone of sadness towards the losses caused by the ongoing war among the people. It also sets a tone of disgust when he uses words such as monstrous anger and demented choirs. In spite of that, there is a shift of tone in the next stanza. Stanza 2 has a more optimistic outlook on the way when the speaker tries to evoke hope among the younger generation for the war to eventually draw to an end. From the title, it was apparent that this poem was written to encourage the younger generation to keep fighting on even if it was a losing battle. It is ironic how the speaker already knows that the youth will die in the war but continues to push them on with the use of anthem. Anthems are normally used to stir and stimulate patriotism among the people. Owen divides the fourteen lines of this sonnet into two stanzas, the break coming at the end of the line 8. The rhyming structure is a-b-a-b-c-d-d-e-f-f-e-g-g. By using a sonnet as the structure of poem, it sends another signal of irony as sonnets are usually used to express love. In contrast, the speaker is conveying a message of anti-love in war. The soldiers spending most of their time in the trenches while their loved ones are calmly awaiting their return. The use of a traditional form like a sonnet only serves to emphasize the seriousness of the subject. Wilfred Owen masterfully juxtaposes images of war and church in order to emphasize the solemnity of the

death these soldiers will face. In a nutshell, the poem was written to convey the speakers criticism towards war in all forms. To Wilfred Owen, there was no benefit to be gained out of this bloodbath. He frequently uses strong adjectives to describe the solemnness and graveness when the war has a taken a toll on the people. The various use of literary devices such as personification, onomatopoeia and auditory imagery helps to stimulates the readers senses and pulls the reader into the world Wilfred Owen paints with his sonnet.