Comparison of Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen and Suicide in the Trenches by Siegfried Sassoon

Changing attitudes to war presented in the poetry selected.

World War One. The Great War to end all wars. This ‘Great War’ mainly started in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and ended four years later with the Treaty of Versailles, 1918. Propaganda played an important role in the recruitment of men, with posters plastered on every possible surface saying ‘Your King and Country needs you.’ With persuasive poems displayed in newspapers for all to see, urging men to go to battle, this war which was compared to a simple ruby game. With each local neighbor jeering “33,000 men are enlisting each day are you one of them?” With all these schemes to persuade men to join the war, there was a ploy named ‘Pal Regiments’ which allowed groups of friends to recruit together and therefore fight side by side. Unfortunately, young men were brought up to believe that war was exciting, and going to war would earn them great respect.

To address the changing attitudes to war, I have selected two poems to compare and analyze. “Suicide in the trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen. Each of these acclaimed poets has their own experiences, styles, and viewpoints to the war. Owen was a Welsh poet, and Sassoon was an English author/poet, they do share a similar viewpoint on war as both were soldiers, and met in Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh both suffering from shell shock.
Anthem For Doomed Youth was written between September – October of 1917, and Suicide In The Trenches was published in 1918.  

The title of Owens poem gives the reader the impression that they are about to hear a formal musical item. The use of the words “doomed youth” creates an ominous tone with the use of assonance. The title is misleading as we are led by the poet into the battlefield to hear the sounds of war, rather than the music of a memorial service. Sassoon’s poem shows us how life can be worse than death; this can be seen through the...