Wildred Owen

Literature, since ancient times, has glorified and glossed over the horrors of war, making it seem worthwhile, honourable and a romantic male endeavour.   The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by one of the most brutal wars in history. Termed as the “Great War”, World War I brought on a great change in the minds of Westerners, who was accustomed to the rosy and romantic pictures painted by authors, poets and artists. The gruesome nature of the Great War, however, shattered these visions and philosophies and from that era on, poem and other like documents reflects only the disgust and disillusionment felt by so many during and after the war.

Wilfred Owen was a ‘War Poet’. He was an officer, who ironically dies a few days before the war actually ends. His poetry is specifically linked to the general historical views of WW1 which conjures up overwhelming feelings of futility and emphasises that so many lives have been lost for such little gains. The melancholic themes of lost youth and surrendered innocence, as well as the obvious revulsion and pity of war find expression in his poems. He intends to show through his poetry that war is not sentimental and nostalgic, but it is filled with hopelessness and despair. In particular, Anthem for Doomed Youth and Dulce et Decorum Est, are both influential war poems that are highly representative of Owen’s ideas about war.

Throughout Anthem for Doomed Youth, Owen draws the comparison of the traditional funeral rituals and ceremonies with the actuality of death for a soldier on the battlefield. The poem itself is an extended metaphor of a funeral for the deceased soldiers on the battle front.

In the poem, youth innocence, waste and death represents the main themes of the sonnet. The title of the poem instantly confronts the audience with the negative tone of the poem. The words “Anthem”, “Doomed” and “Youth” are juxtaposed to highlight the brutality of war. Youth is usually associated with the happiness of...