Anthem for Doomed youth

January 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm (Uncategorized) ()

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (yes, I still make them) was to read more poetry, and as I was in a sombre mood this morning, Wilfred Owen  fit the bill.

I’ve been an admirer of Owen’s work since I was about 15 when a teacher had us read his poem “Dulce et Decorum est, ” and have posted his poems elsewhere on this blog.  On the weekend, I was reading something about the Republicans’ plans to block Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense. The phrase “chickenhawk”, a term new to me,  was used and it reminded me of this poem. Who speaks for 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 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.



  1. Julie Kinnear said,

    Good choice. I think that Owen wrote this poem during WW I while he was recovering in a hospital.

    • fischerzed said,

      you’re right, and your comment reminded me of Regenesis, the movei about Sassoon and the treatment of ‘shellshock’ during the first war. I remember Owen is in the film (I think it ends with his death), but I’m not sure if the poem is mentioned.

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