Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
         Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
         Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
         Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
         The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


  1. A sound image associated with a WWI battlefield. It uses onomatopoeia because the words imitate the continuous but unrhythmic sound of rifle fire.

    — Glen VanDerPloeg
  2. A sound image associated with a WWI battlefield. It refers to the deafening boom of the large field artillery. "Anger" could be said to personify the guns and their sound.

    — Glen VanDerPloeg
  3. A sound image connected with a church funeral. A passing bell was rung when a person died, both to invite those nearby to pray for the soul of the recently deceased, and to ward off evil spirits.

    — Glen VanDerPloeg