Thursday, February 15, 2007

Anthem For Doomed Youth

This is a poem by Wilfred Owen, which employs a traditional form of the sonnet. Much of the imagery suggests Christian funeral rituals and the poem moves from infernal noise to mournful silence.

It was written in 1917, when Owen was a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, recovering from shell shock. The poem itself is a lament for young soldiers whose lives were unnecessarily lost in World War I. At the hospital, Owen met and became close friends with another poet, Siegfried Sassoon, and asked for his assistance in polishing his rough drafts. It was Sassoon who named it 'Anthem', and who substituted 'Doomed' for 'Dead'; the famous epithet of "patient minds" is also a correction of his. The amended manuscript copy, in both men's handwriting, still exists, and may be found at the Wilfred Owen Manuscript Archive online.

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