Anthem for Doomed Youth

By Wilfred Owen 1893–1918 Wilfred Owen
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 goodbyes.
      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.

Source: The Poems of Wilfred Owen, edited by Jon Stallworthy (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1986)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Wilfred Owen 1893–1918

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects War & Conflict, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, Death

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Wilfred  Owen

Biography

Wilfred Owen, who wrote some of the best British poetry on World War I, composed nearly all of his poems in slightly over a year, from August 1917 to September 1918. In November 1918 he was killed in action at the age of twenty-five, one week before the Armistice. Only five poems were published in his lifetime—three in the Nation and two that appeared anonymously in the Hydra, a journal he edited in 1917 when he was a patient at . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.