Anthem for Doomed Youth Essay

651 Words Jun 20th, 2008 3 Pages
Wilfred Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth” was written while he was a patient in a Scottish hospital, receiving treatment for shell shock during the First World War. Owen wrote the poem in 1917. He died in 1918 of gun shots he received in battle. He was only 25 when he died. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” is a lament for the young men whose deaths he witnessed, both on the field and in hospital. It is a poem that acts as a mourning prayer or song for soldiers who might never get to receive a proper funeral, and a reminder of the horrors of war and the sacrifice of the younger generation. On the literal level, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” asks what kind of funeral these soldiers have when they die on the field of battle. The answer is …show more content…
The sound then shifts in line eight, to the euphony of “bugles calling for them from sad shires” (Owen 542). This line brings the reader from the noisy battlefield to the quiet, waiting countryside of England and Scotland. The last line of the poem “And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds” (Owen 542) employs alliteration and assonance, a repetition of “D” sounds in “dusk” and “drawing-down” signal the closure of the poem, and the vowel sounds of “slow”, “dusk”, “down” and “blinds”, literally slow down the reading of the line. Both the alliteration and the assonance signal the ending of the day and, perhaps, the end of hope for those who had been waiting at home for soldiers who will not return. The figurative level of the poem, revealed partly through sound as already discussed, is also revealed through imagery and symbolism. Funeral imagery appears throughout the poem: the “passing-bells” (line 1), “orisons” (line 4), “no prayers nor bells” (line 5), “choirs” (line 6), “bugles” (line 8), “candles” (line9), “pall” (line 12) and “flowers” (line 13). When taken all together, the impression is that a kind of funeral ritual is actually taking place within the poem, or at least within the mind and heart of the speaker. The fact that soldiers who die in battle are denied the proper funeral rites, and the fact that their families are denied the chance to bury their sons, brothers, boyfriends and husbands is

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