The Poem Anthem For Doomed Youth English Literature Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: English Literature|
|✅ Wordcount: 964 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
The poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ is in the form of a sonnet. Because a sonnet is traditionally a poem to express love, Owen is reflecting his love for life and peace in his poem. Furthermore, by using a form of poetry that symbolises peace, love and harmony, Owen differentiates his poem from other poems about war, making people notice it. This is as most war time poetry draws light to the violence of war, while Owen describes it in a calm and peaceful way.
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Because Wilfred Owen has chosen to write Anthem for Doomed Youth in the form of a sonnet, it is split up into two parts; an octet, made up of eight lines, and a sestet, made up of six lines. In each of the stanzas, Owen focuses on different aspects of battle; in the octet, he uses imagery to describe the ‘monstrous anger of the guns’, the ‘wailing shells’ and the ‘bugles’ calling from home. In contrast, in the sestet, Owen describes the ‘pallor of girls’ brows’, the tears of the boys at home, and the ‘drawing-down of blinds’. By this use of juxtaposition, the contrast between home and war is exaggerated and more noticeable, causing the reader to feel sympathy for the soldiers who have to fight at war, as they are so far away from home.
Owen uses extremely strong and powerful imagery throughout his poem. In the very first line, he compares the soldiers’ deaths to the deaths of ‘cattle’. This simile suggests that the soldiers are pointlessly massacred in an undignified and ungodly manner. By using this simile, Owen evokes sympathy in the reader for the soldiers.
Owen describes the rifles are ‘rapidly rattling’. By this use of alliteration and onomatopoeia simultaneously, Owen portrays a clear image in the head of the reader, evoking compassion in the reader for the soldiers, as the reader can clearly see what the soldiers went through. By doing this, the readers are further put off and against war. This is as Owen is successful in using imagery to engage with the reader in his sonnet and persuading them to view war as he does.
One final use of imagery in his sonnet is the use of personification. Owen describes the ‘monstrous anger of the guns’, giving the guns a powerful, negative connotation. By doing so, he evokes hatred of weapons and violence in the reader. By using the adjective ‘monstrous’, Owen compares the guns to monsters. Traditionally, monsters are daunting creatures that people are afraid of. Similarly, Owen is suggesting that the prospect of guns is not taken seriously enough, and people are not as afraid of them as they should be, causing the reader to feel frightened of war.
Throughout his sonnet, Owen uses juxtaposition to exaggerate the contrast between what is right and what is wrong. He describes the ‘demented choirs’ of the shells. The noun ‘choir’ normally has positive connotations; a choir is peaceful, holy and calming. However, when placed next to the adjective ‘demented’, it takes on a whole new meaning. Now, the phrase suggests something out of control, chaotic and manic. The use of juxtaposition causes the reader to feel uncomfortable has turned something positive into something negative. Owen is aiming for the reader to feel this way about war.
He also uses juxtaposition when he is describing the ‘hasty orisons’. An orison should be taken time over, not rushed and then dismissed. This use of juxtaposition causes the reader to feel sympathy and sorrow for the soldiers, whose deaths were quickly dismissed, such as these orisons were.
Owen’s whole poem is based around religious imagery. Throughout the poem, he is using an extended metaphor to compare and contrast the funeral they would have received at home to the funeral they received at war. The first line of each stanza is a rhetorical question, asking what sort of grief and farewell they receive when they are at war; Owen asks ‘what passing bells for these who die as cattle?’ The soldiers do not get a proper funeral with church bells to mark their deaths; rather, they have only the ‘monstrous anger of the guns’ to announce their deaths. This evokes sympathy in the reader, as the soldiers do not have anyone to stop for them and announce their deaths; rather, everyone around them continues what they are doing.
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The first line of the sestet is also a rhetorical question, asking the reader ‘what candles may be held to speed them all?’ They have no candles to commemorate their deaths; the only light to honour them is in the tears of their friends, the soldiers who must continue fighting and cannot stop to grieve for the loss of their fellow soldier. This causes the reader to feel empathetic, as nobody cares for the deaths of the soldiers; it is no longer righteous and great to fight for your country- rather, it is simply a pointless massacre of innocent men. Owen is engaging with the reader, causing them to question their old beliefs.
Owen also describes the ‘pallor of girls’ brows being their pall’. This evokes sorrow and anger in the reader, as the soldiers do not have a proper burial; they are left to rot in the ground, with only the pale brows of the girls back home to commemorate and honour their deaths.
As well as using religious imagery in the beginning lines of each stanza, Owen also uses rhetorical devices. By asking a rhetorical question at the beginning of the octet and sestet, he engages with the reader immediately. This causes the reader to feel as if Owen is speaking to them personally, making their views and opinions stronger.
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