Anthem For Doomed Youth

Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
     - Only the monstruous 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.


Written when Owen was a shell-shock patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital, Edinburgh, where he became friends with Siegfried Sassoon, who assisted with amending his drafts.  The above was transcribed from their jointly amended original manuscript.