Treasure Island

Wilfred Owen

(1893-1918 / Shropshire / England)

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Anthem For Doomed Youth


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 wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad 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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Thursday, June 30, 2011

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  • * Sunprincess * (3/14/2014 7:48:00 PM)

    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. (Report) Reply

  • Stephen W (3/9/2014 10:50:00 AM)

    @Manohar Bhatia: The drawing down of blinds was a mourning ritual in Britain in the old days. When someone died, their neighbours drew curtains or blinds as a display of respect. (Report) Reply

  • Manohar Bhatia (11/6/2013 6:51:00 AM)

    I like the last line___ { And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds}.The meaning is thus: : : In every windown, some women put venetian blinds so that the sun rays don't creep in and to keep the room pleasant and airy. Just as dusk settles in, this is compared to drawing-down of blinds......Oh! what an awesome metaphor? This poet is truly brilliant and I learnt something new from him.
    {Anthem For Doomed Youth} is truly an inspiring and an amazing poem to read. I salute Sir Wilfred Owen.
    Manohar Bhatia. (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (10/3/2013 9:21:00 AM)

    War - conceived by demented minds
    That sends youth to kill and die like flies
    Knowing not the worth of a human life
    All expendable in the raging devilish fires (Report) Reply

  • Lesley Gorton (5/16/2013 11:56:00 AM)

    An antidote to the glorification of war in the world today. Owen saw and suffered the futility and debasement of the human being; the loss of a generation and yet they are still at it. Anthem for doomed Youth brings the images and hopelessness of wholesale random death instantly to the minds eye. (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (11/6/2012 2:02:00 AM)

    beautiful piece where it seems to me that Wilfred sees the fallen ones battlefield memorials (as such) are no more fitting and expected than the ones at home, of choirs and bugles...it seems he is saying it is all so un-natural....the last two lines just seem so accepting (Report) Reply

  • Tuffsnotenuff Y''all (4/23/2012 10:02:00 AM)

    Maybe you have to miss dying by a few foot-pounds of impact force to write something like this. The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall... and shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells - singular extensions to the language. Worthy of Homer. (Report) Reply

  • Sylva Portoian (12/16/2010 9:48:00 PM)

    Dec16,2010
    I never knew about this young poet: “Wilfred Owen”
    His stanzas drizzle from bleeding heaven of WWI.

    But I know about Armenian Genocide
    Our pains and tragedies
    That still stays unrecognized
    By British and United States-

    Those democratic parliaments seem civilized
    In many eyes but never Ours!
    Count the days passed...!

    I call Wilfred Owen
    The John Keats who wanted to silence wars
    If he was alive... probably could forced the British
    To recognize the Armenian Genocide

    'One man can do many things in life
    more than selfish many'

    Sylva (Report) Reply

  • Jim Cunningham (11/6/2010 9:51:00 PM)

    This poem had an 8.5 rating among readers here-this is the poet who also penned the incredible Dulce et Decorum...how does a poem as powerful and well crafted as this get an 8.5 when I have seen lots of pablum about 'love' written by unknowns get a 10? ? Beats the heck out of me. (Report) Reply

  • Cs Vishwanathan (11/6/2010 11:17:00 AM)

    I read this sonnet of Wilfred Owen in anthology of war poets (WW-I) a little over fifty years ago. I have never forgotten the last verse, 'And each slow dusk a drawing-down of the blinds.' It is rare to see a poem having such a fitting closure. In his early death the English poetry quite probably lost a Keats. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Eccles (6/14/2010 7:55:00 AM)

    Those youths did not die for world peace - they died in vein.
    The death of all on all sides is to be regretted and mourned.
    WW1 was a sad and pointless global mistake. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (11/7/2009 2:22:00 AM)

    Very well depicts the fate of youths dying in the war! It was indeed very sad to think about those youths who died for the world peace in WWI! (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (11/6/2009 9:29:00 AM)

    This is a great poem - it portends the death of pre-war England. Nothing in English society was the same after WWII, and this poem excoriates the failure of Church and State to protect its children. It is not an against war as such, but against the stupidity of sending men in their thousands senselesssly to death. (Report) Reply

  • Brendan Stott (10/26/2009 5:05:00 AM)

    Owen was only 25 when he died on 4 November 1918, one week before the end of the first world war. As a young officer in the trench warfare of 1917-18, Owen was leading his men across the a canal when he was shot dead.

    There is some tragic IRONY (not poetic license) in that his parents received the telegram regarding his death while the armistice bells were ringing on 11 November 1918. (Report) Reply

Read all 27 comments »

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