Owen’s Implied Meaning In Anthem For Doomed Youth

1454 words - 6 pages

The poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” by Wilfred Owen, has the ability to create powerfully depressing emotions in a reader. The poem has two main focal points which are the lack of respect in the soldiers’ deaths and those who grieve after the soldiers’ deaths. The meaning and emotion behind Wilfred Owen’s poem demonstrate his own life struggles. He was an enlisted soldier who fought in World War I and experienced horrific situations and the deaths of those around him. The poem has a remorseful theme of soldiers who deserve more respect for sacrificing their lives to protect their country, and the people who remain to cope and grieve after the loss of the soldiers. The tone, imagery, and mood of the poem amalgamate very well to create a poem that moves readers emotionally and illustrates Owen’s feelings toward the war.
Before going into the analysis of the poem, some background on Wilfred Owen may be helpful in understanding the meanings behind his poem. Owen did not want to enlist due to religious convictions. He came from an extremely Christian background that made his views on war conflict with his patriotic views, but British propaganda also made him feel obliged to join the military and defend his country (War Poetry). Owen believed killing others was wrong because of his beliefs in Christianity, which is evident in some of his poetry. He believed a man should defend his country which led him to fight and kill, and his experiences radiate through his cynical and critical views on the war (War Poetry). Owen tried to use his poems to impress upon people the impact, grotesqueness, and heedlessness of war. In Anthem for Doomed Youths, Owen forces the reader to look at the deaths the soldiers must endure, and the pain and grief of those who remain must suffer because of the lack of proper burials for the soldiers.
Owen presents his view on the soldiers’ deaths. In the line, Owen asks, “What passing bells for these who die as cattle,” which sets up the tone for the rest of the poem (1). The line connects the bells to a funeral or a funeral procession, and it is not a mistake that Owen chooses bells in the first line. The bells represent the passing of the soldiers’ lives, but later in the poem, the focus turns towards remembrance of those soldiers who die. Sound imagery continues in the next few lines with diction such as “rattle,” “bells,” “choirs,” or “shrill” (3, 5-7). These words show Owen’s fixation on the sounds which accompany someone during their death or funeral, but that these soldiers on the battlefield must die without the pleasures of these sounds associated with a proper burial because the battlefield only offers these sounds of death and despair. Owen views the deaths of soldiers as an immense sacrifice which warrants them a proper burial. Those who die on the battlefield face a horrible death where there is no respect during or after their death, whereas a normal person is serenaded with beautiful sounds of...

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