Themes

War

As Owen was a soldier himself, he witnessed the brutality and horrors of war. These aspects were ignored by others - such as Jessie Pope - who wrote propaganda persuading young men to fight for their country.

In this poem Owen shows that the glory portrayed by those writers is an illusion. He does this by comparing the soldiers to “cattle” dying in their herds, with no ceremony and little comfort in their final moments.

Religion

The poem reflects Owen’s loss of faith as he shows how inadequate religion and faith are when faced with the reality of the trenches.

The poem refers to aspects of religious ceremony, such as bells and choirs. It also refers to funeral practices, such as including candles and flowers in the church service. We see how the young men who die in war are denied these ceremonial goodbyes.

Owen conveys the inadequacy of religion in helping these men when they need it.

Death

Anthem for Doomed Youth is a lament for the deaths of the young soldiers who died in the war.

In highlighting the reality of life in the trenches, Owen shows such a death to be bleak and harsh.

The use of imagery and sound effects emphasises noises such as gun and shell fire, and the pitiful call of the bugles lamenting the loss of the soldiers back home.

We picture the chaotic deaths of young frightened men and the pain of those left behind.