Anthem for Doomed Youth
It employs the traditional form of a Petrarchan sonnet, but it uses the rhyme scheme of an English sonnet. Much of the second half of the poem is dedicated to funeral rituals suffered by those families deeply affected by the First World War. The poem does this by following the sorrow of common soldiers in one of the bloodiest battles of the 20th century. Written between September and October 1917, when Owen was a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh recovering from shell shock, the poem is a lament for young soldiers whose lives were unnecessarily lost in the European War. The poem is also a comment on Owen's rejection of his religion in 1915.
While in the hospital, Owen met and became close friends with another poet, Siegfried Sassoon. Owen asked for his assistance in refining his poems' rough drafts. It was Sassoon who named the start of the poem "anthem", and who also 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 on the world wide web. The revision process for the novel was fictionalized by Pat Barker in her novel Regeneration.
The title of BBC WW1 drama The Passing Bells derives from one of the lines of the poem.
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- Guest, Philip (1998). On the Trail of the Poets of the Great War: Wilfred Owen. Pen and Sword. ISBN 9780850526141.
- Wilson, Carolyn (2006). Writing the War: The Literary Effects of World War One (Thesis). Kent State University.