Anthem for Doomed Youth. By Alan Liu. Background Information. It was written between September and October 1917 At the time, Owen was in Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, and he was under treatment for shell shock. While Owen was under treatment, he met Siegrfied Sassoon - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Anthem for Doomed Youth
Anthem for Doomed Youth By Alan Liu
Background InformationIt was written between September and October 1917At the time, Owen was in Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, and he was under treatment for shell shock.While Owen was under treatment, he met Siegrfied SassoonSassoon helped Owen to edit and polish the poem. Sassoon had made various changes to the drafts Anthem was added to the title Dead was changed to DoomedStyle and RhymeAnthem for the Doomed Youth has a rhyme scheme of an English sonnet (Shakespearean sonnet). (Which is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG).
Although it is written in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet, which is an Italian sonnet; It contains 14 lines, and is divided into an octave(eight lines) and a sestet(last six lines)
It is normally used to express the unattainable love, and in this case, for the Doomed Youth, it is used for the young soldiers who are dying, which leaves their loved one, their family abandoned, and this shows irony.The Format What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattleCan 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 eyesShall 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.
The Title Anthem for Doomed YouthOriginally, Owen used Dead ,Sassoon had made it DoomedAs well adding Anthem to the title of the poem. After the title was finalized, it had a deeper meaning than the one Owen used previously.Doomed here makes it more significant Doomed Youth, literal technique used here is assonance, the repeating of the vowels gives the title a more ominous tone.The title itself is a paradox, anthem is normally used to express the love for the homeland, but in actual fact, they are sending young soldiers to trenches which they are unlikely to get back, because of their doomed faith. Similar irony portrayed here to that of Dulce et Decorum Est. OctaveFirst Stanza/first eight lines of the poem(line 1)What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?Owen began with the question, which meantwhat ceremonies are held for those young soldiers who are killed like cattle. He wants the readers to think about it while reading. Passing bells means the ceremonies for the dead, where prayers were said. who die as cattle, this is a simile and connotation for how the soldiers were slaughtered.for these who die as cattle is used to show that the soldiers had a similar fate to a creature which provide humans with meat, which shows they cannot determine their fate.Owen also used cattle to describe: The life-span of the young soldiers.Cattle were mass-slaughtered and sent to the abattoir for meat, it is used to describe the young soldiers lives, this shows how vulnerable the soldiers lives were in the trenches and the inhumane of war.
OctaveFirst Stanza/first eight lines of the poem(line 2) Only the monstrous anger of the guns.There is a full stop at the end of the sentence, as it answers to the question What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?. Monstrous is a connotation here means evil and horror. The hatred from the soldiers gave the guns expressions, such as anger, this is a transferred epithet, as the feelings of the soldiers are transferred to the their weapons. This is also in comparison with the passing bells, where people received their ceremonies, although the soldiers in the battle field could not have the same treatment, as they die in the battlefield without any funerals.
Octave(line 3) Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle(line 4)Can patter out their hasty orisons.There is a repetition of only : to emphasize the monstrous anger of the guns. Alliteration is used to describe the guns, rifle rapid rattle
Stuttering is used as onomatopoeia to imitate the guns as well, in order to make it repetitive. It is also a personification as normally humans stutter. Can patter out their hasty orisons. contrasts with the previous sentence, such as rapid rattle to hasty orisons
Owen compares the sounds in the trench to the prayers, it indicates that the soldiers had a bitter life in the battlefield
Octave(line 5) No mockeries for them from prayers or bells, (line 6)Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs(line 7)The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
Mockeries used here as a metaphor for the ceremoniesIt follows with prayers or bells. This shows the tragic reality of the war.The religious ceremony for them is not enough to compensate for their sacrifice, therefore prayers or bells are merely mockeries to them. Owen describes the choir, as a cacophony, again, he uses comparison between two choirs to the wailing shells. He uses it to emphasize the irony of the way they grieve about the dead soldiers, which were meaningless and mockeries to the soldiers lives.
9Octave(line 8) And bugles calling for them from sad shires.Bugles are war trumpets; it is for giving signals and used for gatherings (bugle call), it is also used in funerals for the dead soldiers.
Sad shires are places where the soldiers come from, it is called sad shires because their families are sorrowful for their loss. This shows that although they are dying and sacrificing for their country without any recognition, yet there are people out there in their homes, people still remember their names, the only ones that cared about them were their families.
This is the end of the Octave, therefore Owen made this transition to go on in the Sestete with more information about the families.Sestete(line 9) What candles may be held to speed them all?For the second stanza of this poem, Owen approach the trench miseries in a different perspective. He continues with the attention is more on the family aspect.This is the second question asked by Owen. Candles in here are the candles used in churches for ceremonies for the dead, in order to remember the dead. Although as Owen mocked the ceremonies, he is now comparing the traditional ways of death to a war death. Speed them all means sending hopes forward to the dead and hoping them to get a better afterlife.
Sestete(line 10)Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes(line 11) Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
By this, Owen is using the faint light of the candles to compare with the light from the eyes of the soldiers, which is also a faint light. It is showing the last hopes of the soldiers, seeing themselves in the battlefield with their comrades, hoping for a better afterlife. Sestete(Line 12) The pallor of girls brows shall be their pall;
Pallor indicateThe girls faces turned pale when they hear about the deaths of their loved ones. Since the soldiers wont receive a proper funeral, they will not have a pall, which is the cloth to put on the top of the coffin, therefore it is replaced with the grief of the girls faces. Sestete(line 13) Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds, No flowers will be placed in their funerals, since they wont be having proper funerals. Their tributes will be only remembered by their families. Sestete(line 14) And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blindsdusk, drawing-down is alliteration, as it repeats d for three times. By a drawing-down of blinds meant each day at dusk meant that it is another soldiers death, therefore they had the blinds drawn down.
ConclusionIn conclusion, Owen had portrayed the pity and horror of the war through his poem. He illustrated the crucial facts and the tragic reality of war through his poem. As he disagreed on the ideas of religious rites. Moreover, he involved the familys reactions towards their sacrifice. It showed the irony of war, where each single death do not mean much, and their bodies may never be found, they may never receive a funeral, although remembered by the few relatives they have. The poem truly gives the readers an impact on the truth behind the lies of how the war was said to be, which in reality was hell for all the young soldiers that fought in them.The End