Tag Archives: Anthem For Doomed Youth

For What? – a poem by Paul Vincent Cannon

At dVerse Sarah is hosting Poetics with an invitation to share a poem that has called to us, affected us in some way, positively or otherwise, and to write a poem in response. dVerse Poets – Poetics – A Conversation

Photo: Ben Kerckx, pixabay.com

I have chosen Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ and riffed on that a little. I despise war and I see it as a failure of humanity to sit down together. Wilfred Owen fought in the British army in WW1 and died at the age of 25 in 1918 one week before war’s end. For a detailed biography see The Wilfred Owen Association

Anthem For Doomed Youth     by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- only monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now 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.

“Men make war to get attention. All killing is an expression of self-hate.” Alice Walker

For What?

Passion flowered blue in the fields of sheets
set for their love of each other and,
soon enough, their fruit was ripe for picking,
the suckling ripped from breast to trench,
unprotected by the hollow words of those
faceless ones who send anyone but themselves,
valorised by suited cowards and coercive saints,
left alone in mud, and cold, diseased;
grief flowered red in the fields of France,
as life bled out for the shame of piety
voiced in cathedrals of death.

©Paul Vincent Cannon

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Filed under death, Free Verse, grief, history, life, poem, quote, war