Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Anthem for Doomed Youth

Choose a poem in which you feel there is a significant moment which reveals the central idea of the poem; show how the poet achieves this in an effective way. ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen is a poem in which a significant moment reveals the central idea of the poem. The poet achieves this through many poetic techniques such as depersonalisation and alliteration. The first hint of content of the poem comes in the title, the paradox of ‘Doomed Youth' implies that it will not be a happy poem but the first line is significant as the central idea of the poem is revealed. â€Å"What passing bells for those who die as cattle?† The rhetorical question at the very beginning of the poem draws the reader in making them think fully about the ideas carried on through the rest of the poem. From the very start we are aware that the people who are dying are not considered important as the writer refers to the people as ‘those'. Also the depersonalisation as he calls them ‘cattle' implies that they were thought to be no more than animals. They also lose their own personal identities. ‘Cattle' also implies that the men do not have voices and needs that anyone else – anyone human – can understand. As a reader I feel that opening the poem with a rhetorical question is very effective. However in the second line of the poem Owen personifies the guns – ‘monstrous anger' – showing that the guns are worth more and have a louder voice than the men who are dying, which links to the first line as the men were depersonalised. Also Owen uses the word ‘stuttering' to describe the rifles which could imply that the soldiers are young and nervous referring to ‘youth' in the title. The reader feels sympathetic towards the young soldiers. Again Owen implies that the soldiers are not seen as individuals by the use of ‘Can patter out their hasty orisons'. By using the word ‘their' Owen shows how the soldiers were grouped together. This idea is carried on to the next line with ‘No mockeries for them' as he refers to the men as ‘them.' The idea of ‘mockeries,' ‘prayers', ‘bells' and ‘mourning' all are associated with death and funerals, but the repeated use of ‘No' tells us that no one respected the soldiers enough for a proper burial, it could also imply too many of the soldiers were dying. This also relates to the question at the beginning of the poem. The reader feels angry that the soldiers are not respected in their deaths. Although the second stanza starts the same way as the first stanza – with a rhetorical question – the ideas suggested are different. â€Å"What candle may be held to speed them all?† Unlike the first rhetorical question this implies that there is not anything good or big enough to show respect to all the soldiers who died in the war. This rhetorical question also links the first and second stanzas together as they both start the same way. Also death is portrayed in a more positive light, as the people at home respect the soldiers. This is shown by the ‘holy glimmers of goodbyes' by the use of the word ‘holy' the poet shows the reader that the soldiers were respected greatly. Owen also implies that only in death with the torture of war end which makes the reader feel sympathy for the soldiers and anger for the pointless destruction that war causes. In contrast to the treatment of the soldiers in the first stanza the writer tells the reader that the soldiers will be missed as he says about the women at home: â€Å"the pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;† This shows that they were worried about their husbands, brothers and sons. This is carried through the next line when Owen tells the reader ‘their flowers the tenderness of patient minds' showing that the war is not only affecting the soldiers but their loved ones who are left behind. This makes the reader sympathetic towards the soldiers and their family and friends. The idea of respect is carried on in the last line as the alliteration of ‘And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds.' slows down the pace of the words and ‘drawing down of blinds' symbolises the end of another soldiers life as drawing down blinds was a mark of respect when someone died. ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen is a poem in which a significant moment reveals the central idea of the poem. Through many poetic techniques such as word choice, alliteration and personification the writer effectively creates a moment which the central idea is revealed. Anthem For Doomed Youth Throughout this poem there is a theme of mourning and funeral. In the first stanza it is almost sarcastic with instruments of war conducting a service on the battlefield for their victims. The guns become ‘passing-bells' and shells become ‘demented choirs'. The second stanza takes us back home where the true mourners are. The poet speaks of how ‘the holy glimmers of goodbyes' will shine in the eyes of boys instead of their hands and how ‘the pallor of girls' brows' being the ‘pall' of the dead. The last two lines, for me carry the greatest effect and meaning: ‘Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds' The first is about the disappointment of people who have worried and waited for a long time and whose pain can only be expressed in small gestures or things such as flowers. The second could be interpreted in many different ways. It could be referring to the custom of drawing down of blinds but it could also be about the end of a life and hope leaving as reality settles. These two lines also delineate the pointlessness of hoping as the dead were ‘doomed' and predestined for slaughter in the way that ‘cattle' are in the first place. ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth' is structured like a sonnet and has a very strong rhyme which never appears to be forced and does not interrupt the meaning of the poetry. Indeed, most things about the structure and choice of language appear to be unforced as they are so well incorporated with one another and only after the second reading does one realise how carefully thought out they are. In the first stanza, there is a large use of onomatopoeia: ‘stuttering', ‘rattle', ‘patter', ‘wailing'. This has the effect of bringing the reader to the battlefield. Wilfred Owen has personified the warfare and made the rifles ‘stutter' and the shells ‘wail'. He has also made them come to life; guns cannot be angry and neither can shells be ‘mourning'. This forms an image in the first stanza that is slightly ‘demented' and disturbing. He often repeats vowel sounds and uses alliteration throughout the poem. In ‘the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle' the ‘a' sound is repeated along with the alliteration of the ‘t's. The words of the poem are cleverly chosen to heighten the expression of the poem in the way it is read. For instance, in the quotation about the rifles above, the alliteration he has chosen to make makes the sound interrupted and quickens the pace. This also reminds of the panic and rushing of war. In the final lines the words are not ones that can be said quickly: ‘flowers', ‘patient', ‘minds', ‘slow', ‘blinds'. This dramatically slows the pace of reading and makes them more expressive because it makes the reader think that the poem also dies with the soldiers or the hopes for the soldiers' lives. What is interesting is that there are no phrases that bind this poem to the First World War. Of course, it was written about it, but if given to a reader who did not know about Wilfred Owen or his works, they could think it was about any or all wars after the invention of the rifle. The poem does not mention trenches or gas. ‘These who die as cattle' are not necessarily British, neither are they necessarily of any side in war; they are the collective dead. ‘The guns' are not our guns or their guns. In the preface for a book of poems he intended to publish, Wilfred Owen wrote ‘My Subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.' ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth' is unique in that the pity is not only for the soldiers of the First World War, but also for those who suffered the loss of people they loved. It can be raised to a universal level where it comments on the shame and futility of all wars. In his other poetry, there is often blame involved but in this poem he evokes an air of sadness and waste only. There is genius behind the phrasing of it, but it is almost hidden because of its perfection.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.