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Literary Devices in Anthem for Doomed Youth

Literary Devices Examples in Anthem for Doomed Youth:

Text of the Owen's Poem

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"in their eyes
 Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

The speaker takes the dark, deathly funerary images from the first stanza and recasts them to describe the other side of war: the grieving process. Instead of bullets and death, the speaker envisions the mourning boys whose tears glimmer in their eyes. By describing the other side of war, the speaker creates an introspective, meditative tone. He establishes that the mourner’s grief is spiritual and perpetual, unlike the earthly, finite scenes of the first stanza.

"Shall shine ..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

The first stanza describes the horrors of war in the present, whereas the second stanza imagines the mourning process in the future. The speaker envisions how the boys and girls will grieve their loved ones—the deceased soldiers—after the war.

"candles..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

The second stanza has transitioned to the location of the shires. In contrast to the first, the second illustrates a quiet environment, far from the mayhem of war. The candle provides a distinct image against all the clanking, hideous sounds of war and suggests quietude and contemplation.

"No..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

Negative words, such as “no” or “nor” in this passage, typically emphasize an absence or emptiness. Since the speaker begins this line and the next with such words, this suggests a belief in the emptiness, or the futility, of war.

"Only the..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

The speaker begins the second and third lines of the poem with the phrase “only the,” which emphasizes that the only noise soldiers hear is the sound of guns and rifles. The speaker’s disillusionment emerges as he laments that soldiers do not hear the sounds of civilian life, only the ruthless, ceaseless sounds of war.

"What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

Both stanzas open with a question that suggests the speaker’s disillusionment with war. With this initial question, the speaker wonders whether “these who die as cattle,” meaning the soldiers, will receive their passing-bells—the bells traditionally tolled as part of a funeral. In asking this question, the speaker laments the fact the young soldiers don’t receive the proper commemoration—their sacrifices heralded with the sounds of war.

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