In this essay, I will be looking at and analyzing a poem by Wilfred Owen, Anthem for Doomed Youth and a poem by Jessie Pope, The Call.
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Anthem for Doomed Youth is a sonnet comparing a normal funeral with the treatment the dead received during world war one, and about the meaninglessness of death during the war and how there was never the time to treat death properly.
In Anthem for Doomed Youth, there is a question at the beginning of each stanza, which is then answered in the rest of the stanza. This shows symmetry and structure. Owen asks the question ‘what passing-bells for those who die as cattle’ this is a metaphor implying that the men that die are like cattle in a slaughterhouse. The passing-bells were rung after someone’s death to announce it to the world and to send them on their way.
He then answers this question with ‘ Only the monstrous anger of the guns’ meaning that the only thing sending the dead on their way is the sound of gunfire. ‘Only the stuttering rapid rifles rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons’ Here Owen uses alliteration and personification to say that the rifles are saying their prayers for them: this is very emotive as it makes the reader wonder if many of the soldiers had lost their faith in god whilst on the battlefield.
The title Anthem for Doomed Youth says to me that this poem was meant to be a kind of a tribute to the soldiers that died in world war one. He uses many sounds in this poem adding to the theme of the anthem: here he writes about bells, choirs, bugles, wailing shells and angry guns the last two of these are personifications of objects, which is interesting as he is giving life to these objects making them human but he does not mention any solders in this poem only refers to them using metaphors.
In the second stanza Owen asks the question ‘What candles may be held to speed them all’ here uses imagery that you would associate with a funeral i.e. candles, I feel Owen is asking who will hold a candle to light the way for the dead. Whilst the first stanza concentrates on sound, stanza two goes into more detail about the normal reactions to death and focuses on people’s reactions at home rather than death in the trenches. ‘Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes’ is particularly emotive because it is saying that you only need to look in their eyes to see the horrors they have seen. ‘The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall’ is saying that the dead soldiers do not have a cloth to cover their coffins, only the love of their relatives The next line, which says ‘their flowers the tenderness of patient minds’ is trying to say that the only flowers are the people waiting at home for the news of their son’s death. Finally ‘and each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds is an image of respect. When people were killed at war or died for any other reason, the families of the dead would draw down their blinds and shut their curtains as a mark of respect and let other people know that there had been a death in the family.
In conclusion, William Owen has written a structured and emotive poem to give his respects to the soldiers that he knew and the soldiers that have been forgotten in this war, he uses alliteration (repetition of sounds) to push certain points across, metaphor’s to let the reader know who he is talking about in the poem and personification is used to give some ceremonial aspect to the deaths of the forgotten soldiers.
Next, I will look at The Call by Jessie Pope, I have chosen this poem as it is in contrast to Owens poem Anthem for Doomed Youth, this poem is as it says in the title a call to the men of Great Britton to join the war against Germany. This poem is very patriotic, she uses a rhetorical writing style to get her point across, three points followed by the main point that she wants to get across to the reader, ‘Who’s for the trench- Are you, my laddie? Who’ll follow French- Will you, my laddie? Who’s fretting to begin, Who’s going out to win? And who wants to save his skin- Do you, my laddie?’ She uses this style of writing in each of the three stanzas; the point that she is trying to get across in this poem is, go to war and be a hero, or stay at home and be a coward! Jessie Pope also uses rhyming couplets in this poem, every second line rimes i.e. trench, French, begin skin. She also uses repetition of the same sentence ‘Will you laddie?’ this is to make the point clear to the men that the poem is directed to. She is basically asking the men of England when it comes to it will you run and save yourself or will you stand and fight for your country.
In conclusion, these two poems are from two completely different perspectives, Wilfred Owen was at the front line and was writing from his own experiences, his poems were true to the real story of war, Jessie Pope was writing from the perspective of the civilian who saw none of the death on the front line, she saw the war as not just the right thing to do but she saw it as the honourable thing to do. Jessie Pope’s poem made me wonder if she would have still felt so patriotic if she had seen the death and destruction of life like the brave men like Wilfred Owen had seen.
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