Anthem For Doomed Youth is the brainchild of one Wilfred Owen. Typical of Owens poetry it is strongly preaching the message of anti-war, and also similar to Owens poems, it displays strong views and harsh imagery. Just going by the title of the poem, ‘Anthem For Doomed youth’, the thing that captured me was the sense of irony and perhaps sarcasm in the title. When you hear the word anthem, it makes you think of your country’s national anthem, which gives thoughts of hope and glory and perhaps doing the right thing for your country.
Owen however twists this notion and shows that instead of this, the youth of Britain who are going out to battle on the front lines, are being led to their death and like the title of his other poem, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, Owen is saying oh what a noble thing it is to die for your country. From my first read of the poem I can see that it rhymes in cuplets of A B in the first stanza, this differs form the second stanza which doesn’t have a fixed rhyming scheme. Alliteration, imagery, personification and onomatopia are the other devices used by Owen throughout the poem.
Owen starts the poem as he means to go on with the opening line reading, “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? ” Apart from opening with a rhetorical question, Owen is showing us some very clear imagery, comparing the young soldiers going to war, like lambs which are being led to slaughter. This type of imagery can be linked to another of his poems ‘The Chances’, which displays imagery of lamb-chops. He continues with even more powerful imagery with, “Monstrous anger of the guns”.
Also in this stanza, Owen, to give them more effect and display their importance, uses personification with the guns when he writes, “Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle”, alliteration is another tool which has been used to do this. Owen uses personification again when he says, “Wailing shells”. It seems that Owen is really trying to put the emphasis on the weapons which are taking the lives of these young warriors by using personification when he describes them, perhaps trying to get over to the reader his disgust for them.
Like most of Owens anti-war poetry the final stanza (which like the first also begins with a rhetorical question) gives images and discusses death, which is understandable seen as they’re war poems. Words such as ‘pall’, which is a funeral cloth and ‘orisons’ which means prayers, as well as descriptions of flowers, (flowers being laid at graves) and the imagery of blinds being drawn down, as if representing the darkness so often associated with death all supports this.
The register of this poem is one of saddness, from Owens part, and also contains an element of anger at the waste and loss of life which occurs during the war. The style of the poem is of an iambic pentameter as the rhythem of the poem is of stressed and unstressed syllables which provides the reader with a flowing rhythem , its close to normal speech patterns.
Unusually, Owen doesn’t adopt a persona in this poem as he does for most of his others, he just narrates as himself throughout. He is detached from the poem and is writing from a distance, this allows to view the war as a whole and not from one particular angle. To conclude this analysis, it’s fair to say that the title sums up everything, Owen believes that the young were doomed and never had a chance and he openly expresses his disgust at the waste of these young lives