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Vocabulary in Anthem for Doomed Youth

Vocabulary Examples in Anthem for Doomed Youth:

Text of the Owen's Poem

🔒 7

"The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

In the Christian church, the word “pall” refers to the cloth placed over an altar during the Eucharist as well as the cloth draped over a coffin during a funeral. The girls’ pallid brows serves as a metaphor for the mourning veils—“their palls”—traditionally worn over the faces of the grieving. The absence of actual veils underscores the absence of funeral rites; after all, the soldiers have died overseas.

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

Here, the verb “to speed” means to assist in order to help someone succeed, as in the expression “Godspeed” used to offer someone good blessings for starting a new journey. In this stanza, the speaker considers what might help the soldiers prosper. His reply is mixed: he has expressed belief in the futility of war and the disregard for the soldiers’ lives, but he suggests that the mourners may still maintain hope by remembering the young soldiers in their eyes and minds.

"sad shires..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

The final line of the first stanza announces the transition from the foreign war zone to the home country. The bugles call for the soldiers from “shires,” regions or counties in England under the rule of a governor or bishop. In the second stanza, the poem takes on a sombre tone and shifts to the grieving, or “sad,” homes of the fallen soldiers.

"bugles calling for them from sad shires...."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

At the end of the first stanza, the speaker employs the word “bugles,” which are a trumpet-like wind instrument traditionally associated with the military—in particular, the funeral call “Taps.” Since 1891, in accordance with army infantry regulations, the military has been required to play taps at all military funeral services. The bugles, always played at dusk, signal the end of the day. In the context of the poem, the bugles call for the soldiers, bringing a close to the soldiers’ lives.

"hasty orisons..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

To further the sombre funeral imagery, the speaker describes the gunfire as “hasty orisons,” or prayers. Since the speaker calls the orison “hasty,” this word choice not only adds to the overall sense of the urgency and chaos of war but also reiterates the lack of ceremony for the soldiers.

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

The verb “to patter” has two definitions: rapid tapping or the mechanical recitation of a prayer. In this context, both definitions accurately describe how the speaker hears the sounds of the guns as rapid and relentless. However, the second definition adds a religious element to the sounds of the guns. The shots of the rifle act as a stand-in for the church bell.

"monstrous anger..."   (Text of the Owen's Poem)

This first stanza is replete with auditory imagery. The soldiers may not hear the sounds of the passing-bell; however, they hear the guns, which the speaker describes as having “monstrous anger.” The meaning of the term “monstrous” contributes to this image of piercing sound: frightening in appearance and inhumane. In this context, the imagery of the guns not only evokes terrifying pieces of artillery but also heinous devices of murder.

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