Arms and the Boy

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"Arms and the Boy" is a poem by Wilfred Owen. Like Owen's other famous poems, it deals with the atrocities of World War I; in it, he portrays the loss of innocence of a child in the midst of war. Thousands like the boy are drawn into the battlefield, to the tormenting visitations of war.

"Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood"

It seems a wonder that a boy familiar with sticks and stones holds bayonets in the same hands and learns the coldness of death.

The title alludes to the opening words of Virgil's Latin epic poem the Aeneid: "Arma virumque cano" ("Of arms and the man I sing").


The poem is written in heroic couplets, in which successive pairs of lines have related ending sounds. In this instance, the final words do not rhyme; for example, "blade" and "blood" in the quotation. This is a scheme called half rhyme.

External links[edit]

Text of the Poem at Poetry Foundation