Saturday, November 9, 2013

Anthem for Doomed Youth / Wilfred Owen


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 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 good-byes.
      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, 1917
from Poems, 1920

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Wilfred Owen biography

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