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Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth" Commentary

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Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen In this Petrarchan sonnet. ?Anthem for Doomed Youth? Wilfred Owen highlights the horrors of war. It mirrors the fate of brave soldiers dying in the line of fire. The theme of death and loss of identity is dominant in the poem and the words in the title, ?Doomed Youth? suggest that the soldiers tragic fate has already been proclaimed. The assonance in these words with the vowels gives the poem foreboding tone. The octet begins with a question that what marks the death of the ?passing? soldier, as they are slaughtered like ?cattle? which signifies that the soldiers die a faceless death as they lose their identities to the chaos of war. Consequently, Owen responds to this by saying that ?Only the monstrous anger of the guns? and ?Only the stuttering riffles rapid rattle? will ?patter out their hasty horizons?. ...read more.


He also portrays the funerals with their ?prayers? and ?bells? to be mere ?mockeries?, which emphasizes that the deaths caused by war are not noble or purposeful as its just like slaughtering ?cattle?. The sound of the ?bugles calling? from ?sad shires? links the octet to the sestet which seems to send a message to the soldiers home and almost warns them to stay away from the madness of war while they are yet forced to leave their ?shires?, homes. The sestet opens by questioning the lack of ceremonies, traditional rite and dignity as he worries about ?What candles may be held to speed them all?? and bid them farewell. He then goes on to exhibit that the ?glimmers of goodbyes? are in their fellow soldiers eyes, which is like a faint flicker of a tiny, holy light and hope. ...read more.


In this case the day ending and dusk approaching act as the blinds as darkness falls over the battlefield where the soldiers lie. The alliteration of the letter ?d? gives an atmosphere of dull stillness as death comes to a close. Though the poem is a Petrarchan it almost follows the traditional rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet. This hybrid of mixing the two types of sonnets shows that though war is taking place all over the world and in the soldiers life it is normal, yet they do not live the same life as people unaffected by it and how war can warp the perception of normality. Throughout the poem Wilfred Owen communicates the sorrow and horrors of war as the noise of battle gives way to silent grief by employing sight and sound imagery and comparing a proper funeral to the reality of death in war. ...read more.

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