Thursday, November 11, 2010


Anthem for Doomed 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. 

Wilfred Owen  1893 - 1918

Wilfred Owen was born in Oswestry, Shropshire in 1893 the eldest of the four children of  Tom and Susan Owen. The family later moved to Shrewsbury.  He was killed in action whilst leading his men over the Sambre-Oise canal in Northern France, a week before the end of the war.   The telegram from the War Office announcing his death arrived at his family home as the church bells were ringing  out across the town to celebrate the signing of the Armistice which signalled the end of  hostilities.


  1. I think the saddest deaths of all are those that occurred in the last few days of the War - so near and yet so far.

  2. A poignant poem and how sad he dies so close to the end of the war .

  3. This poem is so powerful. Conveying anger but with such poignancy it breaks my heart every time. There is a documentary on Wilfred Owen on TV this evening BBC4 I think. I was going to post something today but I will save it for Remembrance Day on Sunday.


  4. We did the war poets when I was 16years old for my O levels - I hated them then - so depressing I thought. How time changes you. xxxxx

  5. How sad. Beautiful poem, a bit difficult for my poor English, but so full of meaning.

  6. I studied Wilfred Owen's poems for A level English Lit, many, many, many moons ago. I can still recite sections of some of them, so powerful are they! I'm planning on posting for Armistice Day on Sunday

  7. We must be all of an age here - I too studied the War Poets for English Lit A level and loved them.. All that alliteration: "Stuttering rifles' rapid rattle".

  8. Lovely choice of verse; you fooled me, though, because when I saw your photo I thought it was going to be "Flanders Fields."... :o)