Anthem for Doomed Youth
Wilfred Owen – September 1917
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.
|Draft of the poem|
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC – he died a week before the war's end at the age of 25
(18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918)
He had written home including water colour sketches of places, churches and castles; then also the joys he was able to behold … Poppies, Larkspur, Scabious, Ragged Robin and more – despite the absolute trench horror.
There's a very good film – Benediction: which brings to life the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon, who was a mentor to Wilfred Owen who also features in the film.
Sight Lines Magazine – film review of Benediction
Wilfred Owen is buried with his men in Ors Communal Cemetery, Northern France
|Where Owen rests in|
Ors Cemetery - with his men
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