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 willing shells; And bugles calling for them from das 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. THEME The theme for this poem is the horror of war. Wilfred Owen thinks that war is terrible and hopeless because all of the good hopes are gone and a lot people died. The war causes damage and leaves a very deep impact (bad) to the family members who lost their loved ones in the battlefield. LITERARY ELEMENTS 1. Figurative Language Personification Only the monstrous anger of the guns The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells Metaphor Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall Their flowers the tenderness of patients minds 2. Poetic Device Alliteration Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle (repetition of ‘r’) Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes (repetition of ‘g’) Assonance No mockeries for them from prayers or bells (repetition of ‘o’) The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells (repetition of ‘i’) Meter Iambic pentameter (consists of 5 syllables of stress & unstressed feet) E.g.;- “Can/ pat’/ter/ out’/ their/ has’/ty/ o’/ri/sons’/.” “No/ mock’/er/ries’/ for/ them’/ from/ prayers’/ or bells’/.” “Nor/ an’y/ voice’/ of/ mourn’/ing/ save’/ the/ choirs’/.” * p/s - (‘) – stress symbols Imagery Sound imagery – “Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle” Sound imagery – “The shrill demented choirs of wailing shells” Rhyme Scheme abab cdcd effe gg CHARACTERS / PERSONA He was born in Shropshire, England in 1893. He was a soldier in World War I. Wilfred Owen thinks that war is terrible. He also thinks war destroys good hopes and causes death to many soldiers. Apart from that, he believes that war does not only affect physically but also emotionally. He was 25 years old when he was killed (one week before the end of WWI). POINT OF VIEW The author wrote the poem from the perspective of a soldier on a battlefield. He relates many images such as death, funeral and mourning in the poem. In the first eight lines (octet), Owen starts with a question and answers to the question. The answer appears on how the sounds and frantic pace of war. In the last six lines (sestet), Owen then asks and answers another question. This time the answer focuses entirely on the sights of the mourning period of family members and the agony towards the end of a soldier’s life. Wilfred Owen (1893 – 1918) Wilfred Owen was born in Shropshire, England in 1893. As he could not afford to continue his study at the University of Reading, he left school and went to France to work as an English-language tutor. Apart from a tutor, he also wrote poems. The numbers of many young lives who died in the World War I horrified him. In spite of that, in 1915, he returned back home and was enlisted in the Artist’s Rifles of the British Army, received a commission and in the late December 1916 he was been shipped out again to France. During his time there (in France), he wrote his impressions and feelings towards war through poetry. Spring, 1917, after experiencing the hell of war, he was diagnosed with a symptom of shell shock and also contracted trench fever (a bacterial infection transmitted by lice). Then, he was been returned back to Britain by his superiors to undergo treatment at a war hospital in Craiglockhart, Scotland. While getting treatment in the hospital, he continued writing poems and “Anthem for Doomed Youth” was one of them. Siegrfied Sassoon (1886-1967), an experienced poet who was also receiving treatment at the same hospital, helped him by editing as well as polished his woks in poetry. Once he discharged from the hospital, he wrote more poems and actively involved in poetry. All his works were doing great at that time. Eventually, he returned back to the army and war. Just one week before the war ended (November 11, 1918), he died in the battlefield. He was twenty five years old when he died but all his war poems lived on until today as meaningful poems. ANALYSIS & SYNOPSIS / SUMMARY The poem is specifically about the death of soldiers in the battlefield and how their families face and feel of the lost. In this poem, only soldiers know the reality of war and no one else could understand everything that they went through in the battlefield. They are fighting in a war without knowing the real reasons behind it. If they die, there will be no proper funeral for them and their family and friends at home are suffered as well as deeply affected. ETC Annotation 1. Passing-bells Church bells announcing death (Gunfire). 2. Cattle Slaughtered animals (Dead soldier). 3. Orisons Prayers. 4. Wailing shells Mourning shells (Bullets). 5. Candles Lit up in the church to show the sad glimmer the eyes of soldiers (Last goodbyes). 6. Pall Cloth to cover coffin (Pale mourning faces of girls). 7. Drawing-down of blinds The picture of suffering of loved ones after the burial of a soldier. 8. Choirs Church songs for the funeral. 9. Speed Towards the afterlife. 10. Hasty Chaos situation during the war. 11. Mockeries The prayers which were insults (Praying but at the same time shot other people). 12. Patient The emotion of the broken hearted family. 13. Sad shires Counties in England where the soldiers come from.
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