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Close Study Of Wilfred Owen

Satisfactory Essays
~ Anthem For Doomed Youth

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 prayer 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.

Overview
. Anthem - short musical composition, usually sung.
. Stark anthesis is used to present a shocking lamentation against the barbarity of war.
. This anthem voices the sounds of battle.
. Death, violence and sacrifice are central subjects.
. This poem is an extended metaphor (funeral).
. Personification is used as the main technique.
. Tonal shifts from anger/bitter – elegiac mood.

Structure
. Sonnet, 14 lines, 2 stanzas, 2 quatrains, 1 sestet.
. ABAB CDCD.
. 10 – beat iambic pedometer rhythm.
. Rhetorical questions to start each stanza.
. Ends in rhyming couplet.

Themes
. Doomed Youth – negative, emotive.
. Waste/pity – loss of life, waste.
. Funeral – recurring image, extended metaphor.

Language
. Descriptive language.
. Demonic force – torture, consume.
. Emphasis on the funeral.
. Simile, metaphor, personification.
. Juxtaposition – sets the scene.

Rhyme and Rhythm
. Tightly controlled within sonnet structure.
. Para-rhyme, used to heighten mournful tone.
. Slower rhythmic beat in final quatrain.
. Sound mirrors emotion.

Symbolism and Imagery
. Funeral symbols.
. Religious connotations of faith, salvation.
. Romanticised images of fallen soldiers.
. Visual depiction of the mourner’s face.
. Integrates the themes of doomed youth and funeral.
. 1st stanza – warfront.
. 2nd stanza – homefront.

Detailed Analysis
Stanza 1
. ‘Anthem’ – song for helpless young boys.
. ‘Doomed Youth’ – assonance.
. Rhetorical questions to start both stanza’s ‘What passing bells for these who die as cattle?’ ‘What candles may be held to speed them all?’
. ‘Only the monstrous…’ ‘Only the stuttering…’ – repetition of the word ‘only’ stresses the nature of their deaths.
. ‘Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle’ – personification, alliteration and onomatopoeia combine as methods to make war seen more brutal, violent and cruel.
. ‘Can patter out their hasty orisons’ – sense of speed. ‘orisons’ – prayer at funeral.
. ‘No mockeries’ – Christian rites seen as ‘mockeries’.
. ‘No prayers now for them; no prayers nor bells, Nor any…’ – negative connotations are stressed by the alliterative repeated use of ‘no’ and ‘nor’.
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