Anthem for Doomed Youth

-Owen, 1917

Poetic Techniques Definition

Alliteration - The repetition of initial consonant sounds Assonance - The repetition of vowel sounds.

Metaphor - A comparison between two objects with the intent of giving clearer meaning to one of them. Often forms of the "to be" verb are used, such as "is" or "was", to make the comparison.

Onomatopoeia - The use of words which imitate sound.

Personification - A figure of speech which endows inanimate objects with human traits or abilities. Repetition - the repeating of words, phrases, lines, or stanzas.

Simile - A comparison between two objects using a specific word or comparison such as "like", "as", or "than".

Stanza - a grouping of two or more lines of a poem in terms of length, metrical form, or rhyme scheme.

Cacophony A discordant series of harsh, unpleasant sounds helps to convey disorder.

Enjambment: The continuation of the logical sense — and therefore the grammatical construction — beyond the end of a line of poetry. Personification: the act of attributing human characteristics to non-human things.

Rhyming Couplet: a pair of lines that rhyme Dirge: A musical lament for the dead.

Poem Definitions

Bugle: like a trumpet, commonly used in battle announcements Demented: insane or mentally ill Mourning: state of sorrow over the death or departure of a loved one Pall: burial garment in which a corpse is wrapped; is a cloth which covers a coffin at funerals Pallor: unnatural lack of color in the skin

Form: Purpose: Tone: Characters: Setting: Title:

The Story

Stanza One

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

Mourning rituals Technique

: Rhetorical Question Engages reader to consider his argument Technique: Simile Effect: Comparing soldiers to cattle suggests that they similarly are herded onto the battlefield and slaughtered in masses. The simile takes away from them the human quality of being loved and cared for as individuals.

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons.



Technique: Alliteration Technique: Repetition

Technique: Personification


: These lines answer the rhetorical question of the first line. He creates imagery of the battle field. The repetition of “Only the” exaggerates the minimalist nature of a soldier’s “funeral”. The imitation of sound conveys the cacophony of the battlefield for readers. It is all negative.

No mockeries for them from prayers or bells, Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,— The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

Technique: Contrast Effect: the contrast between the first two lines of what is missing and what they have illustrate how far circumstances are outside of “normal”.

Technique: Rhyme Effect: the rhyme of bells and shells suggests that one is a direct replacement of the other.

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.

Technique: Rhetorical question Technique: Imagery Technique: Religious Theme Effect: suggests that their death is a waste. Not only is a life gone, but those at home are left to mourn without closure. Moreover, the anonymity makes it so that it appeals to all readers—not just a specific few.

The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; 
 Their flowers the tenderness of silent maids, 
 And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

shall be the ornamental funeral blanket.

Technique: Word Choice—girls boys Effect: reinforces the helplessness of killing the young.

Technique: Imagery Effect: Gives the poem a slight sense of closure, but does not ignore the loss and waste of lives. Or, on ther other hand, I suggests that towns are closing their blinds and ignoring the realities of war.

Other Points

An anthem is a Christian song of praise, but this sonnet takes this idea and ironically uses the form to point to loss of a whole generation of youth due to war It is a poem that recreates de-humanizing and wasteful scenes of war in an attempt to shock the audience. There are parallels of death on the battlefield and at home churches. Each is treated uniquely: harsh realism for battle and empathy and compassion at home. This change is reinforced in the rhyme scheme and meter.