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Anthem for Doomed Youth - Analysis

Codes and Conventions

"Anthem for Dommed Youth," a wartime sonnet by WIlfred Owen, uses many codes and conventions to construct meaning., By our understanding of the use of these codes and conventions, the poem becomes easier to understand and at the same time, more is revealed to us.

By using a sonnet for the structure of his poem, WIlfred Owen introduces a touch of irony. TO conventional function for the sonnet is love, but this poem has a sort of anti-love, or rather, a lkove that turns bad. The young male population have so much patriotic love, and are so eager to serve, but this love turns sour. They spend time rotting in the wastes of the trenches, only to be mown down inthe bvlink of an eye by a machine-gun nest. Not only are their lives wasted, goine without the holy rite of funeral, but the lives of their loved ones at home are also ruined.

The code of comparision is used a lot in this poem. Owen explores the monstrosity of war inb various examples of comparison. The doys "die as cattle," slaughtered mercilessly. Through personification, the guns responsible for taking so much human life are made out to be monstrous, even evil. The poem also likens their deaths to a funeral, but one where the bells are shots, and the mourning choirs are the army's bugles. The drawing down of the blinds, the traditional sign to show that the family is in mourining, has been likened to the drawing of a sheet to cover the dead.

Through various literary debvices, WIlfre Owen enchances the meaning of the poem. The title itself has signifigant use of assonance. "Doomed Youth." The sound is intended to be drawn out, long and melancholy, as melancholy as the subject of war itself. Onamatopeia is used to make the sounds real: as if we were reaslly there. We hear the "stuttering rifles" and the "patter of orisons hastily uttered." Repitition and alliteration have also been used to make the p[oem relfect the ordeal thatn the army favce: moniotonus boredom in the terrible conditions, then their death, inevitable from the start, will come.

The usualy rhyme pattern of an English sonnet favours a problem or incident in the first octaves, with a resolutuon in the final sestet. WIlfred OWen departs from this approach. Genrally, thew octave has a problem, and then a 'non-resolution' of substitiution. WHat real funeral will our boys have? No passing beels for the dead - only rifle and machine gun fire. No mourning voice - except for "choirs of wailing shells and bugles calling." The sestet continues this substitution, with the glimmer of tears in eyes funeral candles, and the funeral pall the colouyr of their loved one's foreheads. The sestet ends with the family getting the news of their son's death - the blinds are drwan as a sign of mourning.

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