Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

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Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen The sonnet ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, by Wilfred Owen, criticizes war. The speaker is Wilfred Owen, whose tone is first bitter, angry and ironic. Then it’s filled with intense sadness and an endless feeling of emptiness. The poet uses poetic techniques such as diction, imagery, and sound to convey his idea. The title, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, gives the first impression of the poem. An ‘anthem’, is a song of praise, perhaps sacred, so we get the impression that the poem might me about something religious or joyous. However, the anthem is for ‘Doomed Youth’ which is obviously negative. The title basically summarizes what the poem is; a mixture of thoughts related to religion and death, irony, and cynicism. The poem doesn’t slowly start to focus on the point he’s making: there is an immediacy of war with the usage of present tense. Plus, it starts with a rhetorical question. With the rhetorical questions, he says that the dead soldiers, or ‘cattle’, die insignificantly, for there are no ‘passing-bells’ for them. Furthermore, he is emphasizing the vast number of the dead by meaning that there wouldn’t be enough bells, or time to ring the bells for each soldier. The speaker continues by answering his own question with lines filled with onomatopoeia, personification, assonance, and alliteration: the ‘only’ substitute for the bells are the bullets fired during war by the ‘stuttering rifles’ and the ‘guns’ with the ‘monstrous anger’. This type of beginning sets out a solid foundation for the poem: it already gives the reader a strong idea of what the intentions of the poet are. The poem continues the theme of negativity when the speaker criticizes the use of religion throughout war, and possibly questions God. By using things as sacred things as ‘prayers’, ‘bells’ and ‘choirs’ as tools to mourn the insignificant ‘cattle’, Owen says that the dead would only be mocked. The vast number of dead ‘cattle’ is described by Own when he says that there aren’t enough ‘candles’ to ‘speed them all’, and there aren’t any official funerals, but they can only be mourned by releasing their ‘holy glimmers of good-byes’ and that ‘the pallor of girls brows shall be their pall’. The vast number of dead ‘cattle’ is described by Own when he says that there aren’t enough ‘candles’ to ‘speed them all’, and there... ... middle of paper ... ...d ‘shells’. All of these words are in the octet: there is no presence of war vocabulary in the second part of the poem. The religion vocabulary on the other hand is present throughout the poem. In the octet, it is used to mock religion, whereas in the sestet, they are used in a ‘holier’ sense. Throughout the poem, there is an obvious presence of negativity. Besides the actual content, there is a lot of special diction used to reinforce the negativity: first in the title ‘Anthem for Doomed youth’. The theme of negativity continues with the question used in the beginning of both the octet and the sestet, and questions give a sense of uncertainty, doubtlessness, and negativity, but also, Owen uses them to make a point. This theme is continued with negative and pessimistic words such as only, no, nor, demented, wailing, sad, mourning, not, and slow. Some of these words have been used more then once and often used closely, which strengthens the effect. In the end, the poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, by Wilfred Owen, criticizes war, and the use of religion to mourn the dead soldiers, while pitying the mourners. To strengthen his views, he uses strong diction, imagery and sound.
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