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.
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.
1. Figurative Language
Only the monstrous anger of the guns
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells
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
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle (repetition of ‘r’)
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes (repetition of
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells (repetition
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells (repetition of
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
“Nor/ an’y/ voice’/ of/ mourn’/ing/ save’/ the/
* p/s - (‘) – stress symbols
Sound imagery – “Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid
Sound imagery – “The shrill demented choirs of wailing
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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
He was 25 years old when he was killed (one week before the end of
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.
(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.
Church bells announcing death (Gunfire).
Slaughtered animals (Dead soldier).
4. Wailing shells
Mourning shells (Bullets).
Lit up in the church to show the sad glimmer the eyes of
soldiers (Last goodbyes).
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
Church songs for the funeral.
Towards the afterlife.
Chaos situation during the war.
The prayers which were insults (Praying but at the same time
shot other people).
The emotion of the broken hearted family.
13. Sad shires
Counties in England where the soldiers come from.