“Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen Literature Analysis Essay
Updated: Apr 30th, 2020
War is one of the most horrific events that could possibly happen to our world. It is feared and avoided by generations of people. Even though the modern generations of humans growing up in the Western countries and on the territory of Global North have never faced real war, they are well aware of its terrors and scary consequences. The First and Second World Wars have taught people a memorable lesson. The events of the past still haunt some of the countries, the relics of the war are still being found in the places of former battlefields, the veterans are being honored and the films about the war times are still popular.
Of course, the modern humanity knows about the Wars not only from the history books and classes. The First and Second World Wars were massive events that caused horrible destructions and had millions of victims. Lots of people were enlisted in the army and fought at the front lines. Many of these people were poets and writers. Their works outlived the creators in order to serve as reminders of the awful and shocking circumstances these men and women had to witness.
Wilfred Owen was one of such poets. He was born in 1893 in England. He was a highly intelligent man and worked as a language tutor in France, until his patriotic duty sent him to the front line (Wilfred Owen, par. 3). All of the poems of Wilfred Owen are collected in a single volume. There are not many of his works, because this brave man died young.
He is a typical example of his generation, a young man with proper values that fought for his motherland and died at the battlefield as a hero, crossing the Sambre canal and leading his men (Wilfred Owen, par. 4). Owen’s style and works were strongly influenced by another great poet of the First World War times, Siegfried Sassoon (Biography of Wilfred Owen 2014, par. 2). Wilfred Owen was deeply touched by the scenes he observed during the war.
This is why many of his poems are tribute to the war times and reflect the pain and horror the young man had to experience every day. The descriptions of war in literature and poetry are much more striking than the dry facts from the history books. The art of using right words and comparisons in order to create the brightest associations in the minds of the readers requires a lot of talent and skills. Wilfred Owen possessed both, and this is why he is considered one of the greatest First World War poets in the world.
The poem called “Anthem for Doomed Youth” was written in 1917 in fall. The poet begins asking his readers a question about the young soldiers that are killed like cattle at the battle fields all over the world. Owen wonders what kind of “passing bells” (1) will say farewell to these boys and girls that barely saw the life. The poet describes the sounds of shooting guns and rifles and compares them to the prayers because these are the last and only sounds the young fighters hear before dying.
The author mentions that there are crowds of soldiers with such sad destinies that die together from both sides and remain forgotten and lost among the hundreds of other victims of the battles. The author answers his initial question saying that there are no “voices of mourning” (6) prepared for the unknown heroes. In the next lines of the poem Wilfred Owen says that the candle light that is always a part of the holy ritual will only shine in the eyes of the doomed young boys.
The poet mentions that these boys will remain lost in the battlefields, yet the memories about them will always live in the hearts of their loved ones and close people, and this is the only farewell ritual they will ever have. “The tenderness of patient minds” (13) will become the flowers on their graves. The last image the poet shares with his readers is the blinds being drawn down at dusk; this comparison is designed to remind of the civilian people at their homes during the war times grieving about the relatives and friends they lost. This last image also serves as a finalizing phrase that makes the poem complete and finished.
Wilfred Owen compares the routine of the front lines that surrounds the soldiers at the moments of their death with the only holy ritual they will have because under the circumstances of the war most of the soldiers that died at the battlefields were just forgotten, some of them never were properly buried.
The poem is called “Anthem for Doomed Youth” because Wilfred Owen got to personally observe the horrific conditions that were killing thousands of young soldiers every day. Most of these soldiers were under the age of twenty; they arrived to the front lines and were doomed. The ones that survived were called “the lost generation” because after they saw the realities of the war it was impossible for them to adjust to the normal life.
Biography of Wilfred Owen. Poem Hunter. 2014.
Owen, Wilfred. Anthem for Doomed Youth. 2014.
Owen, Wilfred. BBC. 2014.
Owen, Wilfred. War Poetry. n. d.
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