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Anthem For Doomed Youth

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by

Amy Stuart

on 3 November 2016

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Transcript of Anthem For Doomed Youth

Brief Summary
In the absence of appropriate Christian funerals, the poem describes how the fury of the battlefield has replaced traditional burial rites of soldiers dying in war.

Owen also discusses the mourning of those at home who have lost love ones to the war.
Structure
The poem is a sonnet consisting of an octet (8 line stanza) and a sestet (6 line stanza ending in a rhyming couplet). The break between the two stanzas is used to differentiate between the battlefield and the quieter mourning at home in England.
Poetic Devices
Simile
Alliteration
Assonance
Anaphora
Personification

Imagery
Some particularly striking images include:
*men as cattle
*choir of shells
*'candles' (flares of guns) in the dead
boys' eyes
Themes
War - Owen reverses traditional assumptions that it is honourable and glorious to die during war. However, the poem never names a particular war, meaning that its tragedic images come to represent the sacrifices of all wars.
Context
The poet was a young British officer in World War I. He began his service full of patriotic enthusiasm, ready to fight and die for his country. But after grueling months in the trenches, and through his encounter with Siegfried Sassoon (an older soldier and poet of 'Attack') Owen came to realize that the realities of battle were far different from what he'd been led to believe.
Anthem For Doomed Youth
Wilfred Owen
The Poem
Anthem For Doomed Youth gave its readers a great contrast to the patriotic poems of war written by earlier poets of Great Britain, such as Rupert Brooke.
Owen's poem graphically illustrates the horrors of warfare, the violent funerals for the dead and the mourning at home.
Before he met Sassoon, Owen thought that writing anti-war poems about what he saw would undermine morale. However, after meeting Sassoon and editing the poem with his assistance, the poem's stance changed from patriotism to the anti-war poem it is now.
The poet writes in iambic pentameter although at times he adds extra syllables (as in line 1).


The rhyme scheme is that of a traditional Petrarchan sonnet - ABABCDCD EFFEGG
Find examples of these:
Death - Although the poem never explicitly mentions death after the first line, it is littered with imagery of funerals and the weapons of death. The poem ends with its final image of death - the death of another day of violence and mourning.
Religion - The poem is full of symbols of religion (choir, candles, prayers, bells etc.). Owen uses these symbols to contradict the reader's traditional idea of peaceful, respectful death/mourning rituals. He overturns a traditional funeral to depict a loss of spirituality during war.
Don't forget the relevance and meaning of the title!
Full transcript