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Poetry of Direct Personal Experience
Our Collection of Aviation and Military Poetry

Anthem For Doomed Youth
Wilfred Owen

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.


Owen enlisted in the army in 1915 and won the Military Cross for bravery three years later. Owen died aged 25 on 4 November 1918 leading an attack near the Sambre-Oise canal in northern France. He died just 7 days before the Armistice.

He saw action in a number of battles and met the poet Siegfried Sassoon while recovering from shell shock in a military hospital in Edinburgh.


Wilfred Owen - Poet

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 • Last Modified: 04 November 2018, 16:53