Analysis of Anthem for Doomed Youth

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Analysis of “Anthem for Doomed Youth”

Originally published in 1920, shortly after World War I, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” demonstrates

the horror of the unjust deaths of young soldiers. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” is a poem about Owen’s distain towards the honourless way in which young soldiers pass on, and the impact their deaths have on the loved ones they leave behind. The following essay will show that in the anti-war poem, “Anthem for
Doomed Youth”, Owen uses sensational description to evoke the anger that he feels within his readers.

“Anthem for Doomed Youth” is a Petrarchan sonnet, with an octave and a sestet written mostly in

Iambic Pentameter. Owen does include variations in this form, such as line 1 which
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volta of this sonnet occurs after the first stanza, and switches the tone of the poem from anger and aggression to somber, and melancholic. The volta also indicates a change in setting, as the poem is now directed to the people at home as opposed to the soldiers in the war. Finally, it begins the authors use of visual descriptions, instead of the auditory descriptions in the first stanza. Candles are the first image in the second stanza, which is a visual image commonly used to represent God, or in this poem specifically, to represent lighting the way to heaven. One of the two main images in the second stanza is the image of living soldiers delivering the news of death to another soldiers family. These soldiers typically did not need to say anything, for their presence alone, and the look in their eyes would tell the family everything they needed to know. Lines 10-11 describe how the “glimmers of goodbyes” are reflected “not in the hands”, by the official letter they bring with them, “but in their eyes” and the sadness there that cannot be hidden. The final image of the sonnet is the “drawing-down of blinds.” (14) Owen leaves the reader with the image of the passive, lack of action displayed by the people who are not fighting. The war is going on, and the people at home are drawing-down their blinds and ignoring the
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