Anthem for Doomed Youth
by Wilfrid Owen (1893-1918)
Listen to Anthem for Doomed Youth read by Sean Bean
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 good-byes.
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.
In October 1915, the poet Wilfred Owen enlisted in the Army. He was commissioned into The Manchester Regiment in June 1916, and a year later was posted to the 2nd Battalion in France. His first action was on January 12, 1917, when he was ordered to take 25 men and occupy a captured bunker. He and his men remained there for three days, in about two feet of water and under heavy shelling. read more