Anthem for Doomed Youth Commentary Wilfred Owen Essay

This essay has a total of 1208 words and 6 pages.

Anthem for Doomed Youth Commentary Wilfred Owen

The sonnet ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth', by Wilfred Owen, criticizes war. The speaker is
Wilfred Owen, whose tone is first bitter, angry and ironic. Then it's filled with intense
sadness and an endless feeling of emptiness. The poet uses poetic techniques such as
diction, imagery, and sound to convey his idea.


The title, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth', gives the first impression of the poem. An
‘anthem', is a song of praise, perhaps sacred, so we get the impression that the poem
might me about something religious or joyous. However, the anthem is for ‘Doomed Youth'
which is obviously negative. The title basically summarizes what the poem is; a mixture of
thoughts related to religion and death, irony, and cynicism.

The poem doesn't slowly start to focus on the point he's making: there is an immediacy of
war with the usage of present tense. Plus, it starts with a rhetorical question. With the
rhetorical questions, he says that the dead soldiers, or ‘cattle', die insignificantly,
for there are no ‘passing-bells' for them. Furthermore, he is emphasizing the vast
number of the dead by meaning that there wouldn't be enough bells, or time to ring the
bells for each soldier. The speaker continues by answering his own question with lines
filled with onomatopoeia, personification, assonance, and alliteration: the ‘only'
substitute for the bells are the bullets fired during war by the ‘stuttering rifles' and
the ‘guns' with the ‘monstrous anger'. This type of beginning sets out a solid
foundation for the poem: it already gives the reader a strong idea of what the intentions
of the poet are.

The poem continues the theme of negativity when the speaker criticizes the use of religion
throughout war, and possibly questions God. By using things as sacred things as
‘prayers', ‘bells' and ‘choirs' as tools to mourn the insignificant ‘cattle', Owen
says that the dead would only be mocked.


The vast number of dead ‘cattle' is described by Own when he says that there aren't
enough ‘candles' to ‘speed them all', and there aren't any official funerals, but they
can only be mourned by releasing their ‘holy glimmers of good-byes' and that ‘the
pallor of girls brows shall be their pall'.

The vast number of dead ‘cattle' is described by Own when he says that there aren't
enough ‘candles' to ‘speed them all', and there aren't any official funerals, but they
can only be mourned by releasing their ‘holy glimmers of good-byes' and that ‘the
pallor of girls brows shall be their pall'.

The climax in irony is ‘Shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells'; however, just as the
poems irony climaxes, we are taken away from the war to the ‘sad shires'. Furthermore,
the last two lines of the octet are transition lines: they prepare you for the sestet by
slowing the pace and softening the tone, ‘And bugles calling for them from sad shires.'.



The sestet of the poem, by using strong religious motifs, concentrates on what will happen
after the war: about the friends and families left behind. The vast number of dead
‘cattle' is described by Own when he says that there aren't enough ‘candles' to
‘speed them all', and there aren't any official funerals, but they can only be mourned
by releasing their ‘holy glimmers of good-byes' and that ‘the pallor of girls brows
shall be their pall'. Lastly, it is stated that for the ‘patient minds', each day passes
by very ‘slow' and they ‘draw down' their ‘blinds' as if slowly getting rid of any
hope left. Nevertheless, they are finally in serenity.


The poem is divided into two different ideas. The first part's tone is at first violent,
firm and negative; while the second part's is miserable and unhopeful. The mood of the
octet and sestet is similar to their tone: angry and depressive. Throughout the sonnet,
Owen has used two rhetorical questions: one at the beginning of the octet and one at the
beginning of the sestet.

The diction and the actual poetic techniques used in the poem all have strong effects and
increase the power of the poem. The poet uses a rhetorical question in the beginning of
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