A Concise Commentary on Anthem for Doomed Youth
"Anthem for Doomed Youth" is an elegy in which Wilfred Owen conveys his heart felt sadness and disgust for the loss of life in World War I. This poem shatters the fantasized images of war by juxtaposing the opposite worlds of reality and the romanticized rhetoric that distorts it. He writes about the true experience of military death, and effectively expresses these powerful sentiments in only fourteen lines by use of a somewhat violent imagery that is compounded by the constant comparison of reality to myth. Through irony, imagery, personification, metaphor, and other literary devices, Owen brings the sonnet to life by paralleling the experience of war with a funeral.
Examining the title of this poem is a way to look at the contrasts and themes which this poem explores. An anthem is usually a song of praise, but this poem, which is has the solemn style of an anthem, is about the death of the thousands of doomed youth in war. The use of the word youth in the title adds to the theme of the pity of war. The poem is written in sonnet form. The first 8 lines (the octet) lament the horror of the loss of these young men “who die as cattle”. The simile comparing the soldiers’ deaths to the slaughter of animals is one the audience can relate to. The first section poses the question of how do we most appropriately bury our war dead? The answer is in the sounds of battle. Owen’s use of alliteration and onomatopoeia in this section artfully create the sounds of battle.
The sestet (the next 6 lines) moves away from the sounds of war to the stillness of the home front, where the men are being mourned by their loved ones. These men, by the nature of war, have been left to lonely graves away from home and denied a burial service attended by their family and loved ones. This section acknowledges their grief and shows empathy for their loss.
In the first lines, we have the images of these young soldiers being sent...