One of the best regarded war poets for his shocking realism about the horrors of war, Anthem for Doomed Youth is one of Owen's most famous poems from his collection published posthumously in 1919. Only five poems were published before his death in November, 1918. From his preface:"This book is not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.
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.
Featured in our collection of World War I Literature
If you enjoyed Owen's work, you may like the poetry of Vera Brittain, World War I nurse, poet, and pacifist.