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.

Anthem for Doomed Youth – Wilfred Owen, 1917


Posted on November 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The scale of battles may vary but the human misery caused to those left to grieve their forever lost companions remain constant. Thanks for the posting Mr Angry. Wilfred Owen catches the horror of it all. ‘…demented choirs of wailing shells’ indeed.

  2. Whenever I hear the youthful teen trots panting out their anti-war rhetoric, I close my ears and remember not why wars are fought, but rather why men choose to volunteer to fight in them.

    I remember The Devonshire’s memorial at the battle of the Somme, which (to paraphrase) says “The Devonshire’s guarded this hill, they guard it still”.

    We can analyse time and again the reasons for both WW1 and WW2 (really just different acts of the same play) but what we cannot do is seek to belittle or hold in contempt those who fought on all sides of these often bitter conflicts.

    Although there are obviously exceptions, by and large they did not fight for riches or land, but for duty and honour.

    To understand true patriotism (as opposed to narrow nationalism) is to understand how many soldiers, having faced the horrors of war were able to return from their hospitals and infirmaries at home, having suffered injuries and the horrible mutilation of their friends and comrades were able to don their uniforms again and return to the front, often to their deaths.

    Remembrance is not about war, but about those who fought and died that we might have today.

    Lions, led by donkeys – but lions nevertheless.

  3. Thank you for posting this bitter, poignant poem. It’s an acerbic antidote to the usual fare.
    “The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;” one of the saddest lines in poetry.

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