What has been included?
In all the poems there are always lots of words that are used to make us feeling something, to understand better. In this poem there are so many that let us understand the cruelty of the war.
At the beginning of the poem, Owen wants us to know that no bells are rung for “these who die as cattle”. He used the words “passing bells” to let us know that those bells should ring because they ring every time someones dies; so why don’t they ring for those people? Using those two words we understand that the bells should have rung. The words a writer uses are always very important, but in poetry they are even more because it’s not easy to let people understand with such few words therefore if Owen didn’t say “passing-bells” but only “bells” we would have not understood what he was trying to say because…why should the bells sound? Because they are passing-bells, but if the poet doesn’t say it, we can’t understand the meaning of the poem.
“No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; nor any voice of mourning save the choirs.” No one cares about their death, no one cares if one lives or dies, no one cares if you die hiding from the enemy, fighting bravely, killed by an illness or killed to sacrifice someone else, no one cares of their families who are living in the pain, hoping that their beloved, one day, come home saying: “It’s finished, the war is finished and I survived. I love you.” And this will never happen and, as I said, their death means nothing, because they are only minor soldiers who were fighting to survive, as everyone else, but, evidently, this is not worth enough for letting them have a decent funeral. Those who decide not to do anything for them probably have never wondered how it would be to die and to not be recognized in any way; they have never thought “I wouldn’t want this.”
The first language I’d like to talk about is the personification we can find in the 2nd line “monstrous anger of the guns.” The personification is used to give human qualities to non human objects. It helps us to imagine and understand better what the poet is saying. We are able to imagine objects feeling emotions and the personification is used exactly to helps us using this “ability”. This line makes us feel the pain of the death, it makes us feel the noise when the bullet is shot, a really clear sound, as if a door had just been slammed; a sound that resounds in our ears, it scares us, because it’s unexpected. By using this “monstrous anger” Owen makes us understand that, in war, even the guns seem to feel anger and the desire of death; in my opinion, he is using this personification to emphasize even more his hatred towards the war and the death.
Another language technique I’d like to talk about is the repetition,which is used to highlight and emphasize what is most important. In the Anthem for Doomed Youth, we have lots of repetitions in the first stanza. The ones I’ll analyze are the “no…no” and “nor…nor”. They highlight that “these who die as cattle” don’t receive anything. It’s a really powerful language technique because it really makes clear what is happening. We know that they don’t receive mockeries, they don’t receive prayers, they don’t receive bells, they don’t receive any voice. It’s powerful, because using lots of “no” and “nor” makes us really understand what is going on. What if he hadn’t used the repetition? Probably we would have understood that they don’t receive anything, but we probably wouldn’t have understood the importance of this; instead, thanks to Owen’s decision we were able to understand everything.
Sometimes poets use alliterations to make us focus on a particular part of the text. In this poem there are some alliteration, the one I decided to analyze is the one in the last line: “dusk a drawing-down”. it is related to the death of these people. We could say that the last line is even a metaphor for, as I said, the lives that has ended with such cruelty. Alliteration is used to let people focus, the metaphor is used to explain something better and together they let us know that Owen wants us to notice this line and he probably cares that not only we notice it, but also we understand it.
Owen in the poem uses some positive and negative words together, creating a contrast that let us understand how, in war, positivity and negativity, are not different.
The first example of this contrast is when Owen talks about the “rifles rapid rattle” and the “orisons”. These two lines mean that the only prayers which these dying people receive are the ones from the guns. So owen talks about prayers (orisons), which usually are something good, relating them to the guns which are something negative and make us think to the war. As I said before, I think that owen created this contrast to make us understand that in war something good as prayers can become something bad as guns, letting us know that in war there is nothing normal.
Another example could be the lines which say “what candles may be held…the holy glimmers of goodbyes”. Owen is wondering who will hold the candles for these young men who died, who will make the funeral. And the answer is no one, their candles will shine in their eyes as a goodbye, and these candles are glimmers, a weak light. I think it’s something positive that their candles will shine in their eyes, but unfortunately the reason is not positive, the reason is because no one cares about them. No one cares about the young men who die in war, fighting for their lives as anyone else. It’s a contrast to explain that even if they died and no one will bother about them, their strength and their bravery will shine, even if weakly, in their eyes.