Wilfred Owen

(1893-1918 / Shropshire / England)

Anthem For Doomed Youth - Poem by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
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.


Comments about Anthem For Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

  • (4/26/2017 8:05:00 AM)


    The theme of the poem is that the usual funeral rituals are not available to soldiers killed in battle. In the first eight lines, they are replaced by gunfire and the like, on the battlefield. This is meant ironically, and bitterly. Line eight (the bugles) forms the bridge. The last six lines return to the homeland, where the usual funeral rituals (holding candles, holding a pall over the coffin, placing flowers on the grave, drawing down blinds as a sign of respect as the cortege passes) are replaced by intangibles: the wet eyes, the pale faces, the tenderness of the bereaved, and 'each slow dusk'. The poem is extraordinarily well crafted, and avoids the horror scenarios which in my opinion mar some of Owen's other poems. I particularly admire his courage in using a pun in a serious poem (pallor/pall) . (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Sylva-onyema Uba (2/6/2017 11:54:00 PM)


    ...for these who die as cattle?

    Good rhetoric expression.
    A well expressed poem.

    Sylva.
    (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (1/6/2017 2:24:00 PM)

    tom allport
    a sad and haunting poem telling us the sad truths of war. (Report) Reply

  • (8/8/2015 1:35:00 PM)


    Oh dear.....This is truly a sad reality that we let perpetuate. War and its effect on young soldiers. Very depressing indeed. (Report) Reply

  • (6/13/2015 3:09:00 PM)


    A poem to haunt the world forever of the horror and sadness of the young. (Report) Reply

  • (11/8/2014 3:34:00 AM)


    Anthem for doomed youth of Wilfred owen a great poem.The sad circumstances of death of the forces is beautifully mentioned in the poem in such greatness and feeling concerns. (Report) Reply

  • Elizabeth Padillo Olesen (11/6/2014 3:46:00 AM)


    Nice flow of language and good images. Thanks. (Report) Reply

  • Aftab Alam Khursheed (11/6/2014 12:59:00 AM)


    Anthem For Doomed Youth a poem with its beautiful lines What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
    (Report) Reply

  • Dawn Fuzan (4/27/2014 3:44:00 PM)


    I like this one, its Good (Report) Reply

  • (3/9/2014 10:50:00 AM)


    @Manohar Bhatia: The drawing down of blinds was a mourning ritual in Britain in the old days. When someone died, their neighbours drew curtains or blinds as a display of respect. (Report) Reply

  • Troy Ulysses Davis (11/6/2013 7:18:00 AM)


    A timeless poem. A critique of feudalism being passed down as if it's a rites of passage. (Report) Reply

  • Manohar Bhatia (11/6/2013 6:51:00 AM)


    I like the last line___ { And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds}.The meaning is thus: : : In every windown, some women put venetian blinds so that the sun rays don't creep in and to keep the room pleasant and airy. Just as dusk settles in, this is compared to drawing-down of blinds......Oh! what an awesome metaphor? This poet is truly brilliant and I learnt something new from him.
    {Anthem For Doomed Youth} is truly an inspiring and an amazing poem to read. I salute Sir Wilfred Owen.
    Manohar Bhatia.
    (Report) Reply

    Michael Scuffil (4/26/2017 7:59:00 AM)

    I fear you have missed the point of the poem. The poet is saying that the usual funeral rituals are not available to soldiers killed in battle. In the first eight lines, they are replaced by gunfire and the like, on the battlefield. This is meant ironically. The last six lines return to the homeland, where the funeral rituals (holding candles, holding a pall over the coffin, placing flowers on the grave, drawing down blinds as a sign of respect as the cortege passes) are replaced by intangibles: the wet eyes, the pale faces, the tenderness of the bereaved, and 'each slow dusk'. Each slow dusk is the replacement of the drawing down of blinds which cannot take place because there is no funeral.

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (10/3/2013 9:21:00 AM)


    War - conceived by demented minds
    That sends youth to kill and die like flies
    Knowing not the worth of a human life
    All expendable in the raging devilish fires
    (Report) Reply

  • Ronn Michael Salinas (7/21/2013 2:28:00 AM)


    The alliteration on the third line... Wow! (Report) Reply

  • (5/16/2013 11:56:00 AM)


    An antidote to the glorification of war in the world today. Owen saw and suffered the futility and debasement of the human being; the loss of a generation and yet they are still at it. Anthem for doomed Youth brings the images and hopelessness of wholesale random death instantly to the minds eye. (Report) Reply

  • (11/29/2012 8:43:00 PM)


    The stupidity of war. And the sadness of it. So so sad (Report) Reply

  • (11/6/2012 12:25:00 PM)


    I see it as the young soldiers' resignation to their fate. (Report) Reply

  • (11/6/2012 2:02:00 AM)


    beautiful piece where it seems to me that Wilfred sees the fallen ones battlefield memorials (as such) are no more fitting and expected than the ones at home, of choirs and bugles...it seems he is saying it is all so un-natural....the last two lines just seem so accepting (Report) Reply

  • (4/23/2012 10:02:00 AM)


    Maybe you have to miss dying by a few foot-pounds of impact force to write something like this. The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall... and shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells - singular extensions to the language. Worthy of Homer. (Report) Reply

  • Sylva Portoian (12/16/2010 9:48:00 PM)


    Dec16,2010
    I never knew about this young poet: “Wilfred Owen”
    His stanzas drizzle from bleeding heaven of WWI.

    But I know about Armenian Genocide
    Our pains and tragedies
    That still stays unrecognized
    By British and United States-

    Those democratic parliaments seem civilized
    In many eyes but never Ours!
    Count the days passed...!

    I call Wilfred Owen
    The John Keats who wanted to silence wars
    If he was alive... probably could forced the British
    To recognize the Armenian Genocide

    'One man can do many things in life
    more than selfish many'

    Sylva
    (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: anger, sad, flower, girl



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Poem Edited: Thursday, June 30, 2011


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