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Anthem for Doomed Youth

- Themes include death on the battlefield, futililty of war and waste of

human life
- Written in the sonnet pentameter form

First stanza
They are not granted the rituals and rites of good Christian civilians back home.
They do not get real prayers, only rifle fire. Their only "choirs" are of shells and
bugles. This first set of imagery is violent, featuring weapons and harsh noises of
war. It is set in contrast to images of the church

Compare battlefield as funeral- prayers and rituals are not going to help
but are rather like mockeries
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Personification of doomed youth as cattle dehumanises soldiers- it is
important because it creates an image that their manner of deaths is
compared the mass slaughtered animals
The number of soldiers dying was like the amount of cattle being
as cattle creates a connotation to the image of death being impersonal,
mass and in group. Connotations of slaughter without dignity and value
Owen is appalled by the inhumane death these soldiers experience
Owen feels as if they are nameless and faceless- they are losing identities
from the chaos of war
Further emphasises that they die together (huge number of soldiers are
sacrificed) brutally and mechanically
Being killed like an animal is not glorious

Later we will find out that passing bells will be the sound of the chaos of
the war- without ceremony, without traditional rites and without dignity

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

monstrous connotations to evilness and horror
Transfer epithet of anger of the guns- the anger of the soldiers is
transferred into their weapons, sounds of rifles and guns, creating a
metaphor that the guns are angry
Instead of a bell, calling people to mourn for the lives of these individuals,
the sound is one of monstrous anger. The anger is misplaced
transferred onto the weapons which spit their hatred at the soldiers. The
anger is monstrous - unfitting, grotesque and obscene. To be
monstrous also suggests that the sound is loud, as if a huge monster is
roaring angrily.

Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle

Repetition of only highlights that soldiers are in poor condition,
highlights the paucity of prayers and how the sounds of gun and rifles
dominate church and bells (traditional religious ceremonies)
Onomatopoeia/alliteration imitates sound of rifles and weapons. t and
r harsh and repetitive sounds
The repeated t sound in stuttering, rattle and patter imitate the
short, hard sound of the bullets being fired. The repeated r sound
suggests the rapidity and frequency of the shots.
Sounds of guns are rattling out prayers

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

Religious act is seen as inadequate
Sounds of guns are rattling out prayers
seems to be a way of saying that the soldiers have no voice, no way to
express themselves but through shooting. As bleak as that sounds, that's
their duty, after all, as soldiers. No wonder they're compared to cattle in
the first line. These soldiers don't seem to be able to think for or express

No mockeries now for them, no prayers nor bells;

Repetition of no emphasises what they do not have, lack of mockeries,
prayers and voice of mourning
To the ones they do have, only rifles and guns on the battlefield, which is
extremely ironic
Mockeries include prayers and bells, but they act as nothing than just
Again the inadequacy of religions response to this mass death is noted
their prayers and bells that usually suffice are nothing but mockeries to
these soldiers.
how critical our speaker is of religious ritual. (he represents religious ritual as
mockeries, criticizing how inadequate the religious response is)

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,

The shrill demented choirs of wailing shells;
Shrill high pitched piercing. Connotations - uncomfortable to hear,
Demented crazy sounds mad.
Wailing in pain, crying, sorrow, lamenting onomatopoeia. The word
wailing imitates the sound of the shell as it travels. It is an appropriate
description, given the death all around. Shells explosive projectiles
from a cannon.
Creates an impression of battlefield being HARSH and DISCORDANT
Sound imagery- choir is described as shrill and demented mad and
horrific cacophony of sound
Develop the idea of the noise from opening lines
Guns and shells coped together to create the atmosphere of the battle-
discomfort and disorienting mix of the sounds are the representation of
tragic reality

And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

Sad shires is the reference of where the soldiers have come from, bugles
calling indicating that there are people waiting and hoping for the soldiers
to be back
call suggests calling them home
the bugles are mixed with the guns and bullets in the chaos and
confusion of battle
the bugles is the representation of the instruction that those at home
(sad shires) would call- to get out of madness of war

2nd stanza
- more muted grief

What candles may be held to speed them all?

the poem slows down and becomes more dolorous, less enraged.
Shows sympathy and communicates a feeling of sorrow and pathos and grief

Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes

the only light they will get will be the reflections in their fellow soldiers' eyes.
Instead of the actual candle being held to send soldiers on their way into
afterlife, the soldiers simply have the last flicker of tear in their eyes before they
This creates an image of candles being compared to small glimmers of light

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

instead of tears we have "holy glimmers," and instead of deaths we have
Connotation to sacre

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.
All that pacing is enhanced by the fact that this line, unlike many of the ones
that have come before, is written in perfect iambic pentameter. That meter
gives the line a somber cadence; it really lands.

dusk suggesting end of day which implies end of life

Imagery drawing down of blinds as if shuttering off and keeping out the
realities of war

These folks will wave their flags by day, and close their blinds at night, so they
don't have to see the darkness, the terrible realities of the war.

All that pacing is enhanced by the fact that this line, unlike many of the ones
that have come before, is written in perfect iambic pentameter. That meter
gives the line a somber cadence; it really lands.

slow dusk personification- the poem is slowing


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