Compare the ways in which Owen conveys powerful feelings about war in ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘The Send Off’

You should consider: • the situations Owen describes, the feelings he portrays, the language he uses and its effects.

STARTER ACTIVITY: What are powerful feelings? What powerful feelings have you felt in your life? What language/images do these powerful feelings provoke in you: Anger; Panic; Terror; Sadness; Grief; Gloominess; Resignation

MAIN ACTIVITY

Owen conveys powerful feelings in a number of ways in his poetry. Explain why and how these quotations could convey these powerful emotions or any other powerful emotion you can think of; you may disagree with my interpretation/line, in which case find your own lines! Think about how Owen often conveys powerful emotions in an indirect fashion; it is not immediately obvious that there is an emotion being conveyed but you analyse the language or imagery in depth you see that there is.

ANGER: “What passing bells for those who die as cattle?”

“A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
May creep back, silent, to still village wells
Up half-known roads.”

TERROR and HORROR: “Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.”

“Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
As men’s are, dead.”

SADNESS & GRIEF: “Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,”

“Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.”

LOST LOVE: “The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall.”

“We never heard to which front these were sent.

Nor there if they yet mock what women meant
Who gave them flowers.”

CONFUSION:

“Grimly gay”

“Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells.”

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What powerful feelings are “conveyed” or shown in the situations Owen describes?

WILFRED OWEN: Poems

EITHER

Task 11

Poems: Anthem for Doomed Youth and The Send Off

Compare the ways in which Owen conveys powerful feelings about war in these two poems.

You should consider:

• the situations Owen describes

• the feelings he portrays

• the language he uses and its effects.

Task 12

Poems: Conscious and The Letter

Compare the ways in which Owen portrays the impact of war on soldiers in these two poems.

You should consider:

• the situations Owen describes

• the feelings he conveys

• the language he uses and its effects.

CLASS EXERCISES

You are going to have a go at comparing Anthem For Doomed Youth with The Send Off.

 

Essay structure

Explain Anthem For Doomed Youth briefly

Explain The Send Off briefly

Explore the similarities between the poems

Explore the differences between the poems

Conclusion: sum up your findings.

What powerful feelings are “conveyed” or shown in the situations Owen describes?

This is a slightly weak answer to this section of the essay. Read it in your groups and discuss what is good and what is weak about the answer. Then re-write it so that it is much better BY YOURSELF!!!

Owen describes certain situations in his poems; in all of these situations powerful feelings are shown. In Anthem For Doomed Youth he describes a number of situations; he describes how soldiers have to face the “monstrous anger of the guns”. This situation is a bad one; he describes the situation by describing the guns as being like angry monsters. This makes me think of Monsters Inc, where the monsters are fluffy. In The Send Off he personifies a lamp by saying that it “winks” to the guard. The winking makes me think of my auntie who always winks at me. So there you have it, he makes objects seem like monsters and people. It’s very good.

He describes a number of situations in Anthem for Doomed Youth; we learn about the soldiers facing the “rifle’s rapid rattle”, and the “shrill demented choirs of wailing shells”. His descriptions are full of sounds; he uses alliteration to convey the nastiness of the rifles shooting people. He says that the shells are like “shrill, demented choirs” because they sound like a choir all out of tune. This makes me think of Bohemian Rhapsody. I’m not quite sure why.  Later on in this poem, he describes the situation of the people who are sad that the soldiers haven’t returned from the war: the boys who have lost a father, brother or uncle, the girls who have lost their husband, lover or brother. These situations are powerfully conveyed because you can feel the people’s sadness in his description; the boys’ eyes are shining because they’re about to cry their eyes out; the girls are pale because they are worried about their loss.

The Send Off is a bit different from Anthem For Doomed Youth because it mostly describes one situation; the soldiers being sent off to war. They have been at a ceremony where everyone has said goodbye to them. They have put flowers on them; we know this because Owen describes the soldiers as wearing “wreath” and “spray”. Owen says that this makes the men look like dead men; this is a powerful description and conveys a powerful feeling because you feel that the men are actually dead. This makes you feel sick to the stomach to think that the soldiers are going to be sent to their deaths. A few people watch the soldiers go off on the train but they don’t know where they are going or what happened to them; this makes me feel sad.

What feelings does he convey in the poems? 

Discuss different lines of the poems and what FEELINGS they provoke in you.

Find quotations where Owen shows real anger. Analyse the EFFECTS of these quotations.

Find quotations where Owen reveals the grief and sorrow people felt. Analyse the EFFECTS of these quotations.

Find quotations where Owen reveals the confusion of people.

Find quotations where people feel resignation and despair.

What language is powerful and full of feeling?

Pick out the powerful language and explain why it is powerful for you.

Look for examples of alliteration and discuss the feelings the alliteration provokes.

Look for examples of onomatopoeia.

Look for examples of powerful rhymes which emphasis strong feelings and ideas.

Look for examples of powerful rhythms which reveal anger, fear, and confusion. 

Conclusion

Write a conclusion which sums up all your main points.

Reading ‘Anthem’ with Year 11: reading lines in unison and adding sound effects

Today, my Year 11 class had a go at reading ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ as a whole class. We sat in what I term a “poetry circle”; the whole class of twenty five in a circle of chairs, no desks in the way. The poetry circle can be good at keeping everyone focused and feeling part of a communal project. Four students took the first line, the next four students the next line and so forth. We read the poem around the class hearing the lines reinforced by four different voices — male and female — reading the words in unison. Some groups of four read their lines with real passion; there was a particularly emphatic reading of ‘The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall’ read co-incidentally by four boys. It took a while for the class to get into the process but I could feel that some really did, feeling the power of Owen’s imagery as they read the words together.

I then got the class to click their fingers with every punctuation mark, and clap with the bits that alliterate, eg ‘the rifle’s rapid rattle’. This showed how emphatic the punctuation is in the poem; the punctuation is thudding, definite and explosive when combined with the words.

Finally, we added sound effects with groups of four making gun sounds, rifle sounds, the sounds of whistling shells, the prayers of the soldiers and a bugle sound. OK, so the sound effects weren’t perfect but doing it like this really showed how noisy the poem is, or as one student put it, that there were lots of noises going off in Owen’s head as he wrote the poem. It was interesting to see how silent the sestet, the fine six lines, is; there are no real noises except possibly the drawing down of the blinds.

As a writing exercise, I asked everyone to write about what they did in class, quoting the relevant line and explaining the sound effect that they made with the line, and the effect that the sound effect and imagery had, as well as why this sound effect was used. This appeared to help them understand the poem a bit.

It wasn’t an entirely successful project because as some pupils said to me, they got bored when they weren’t reading their lines. Although I’m tempted to get pupils to listen more to other people perform. Listening is important!

But I was pleased I had a go at this because it enabled the class to FEEL the language rather than over-interpret it. They felt the words in their mouths a number of times, they added sound effects, they clapped and clicked to the poem; they were beginning intuitively and pro-actively to get a sense of the rhythm and rhymes and emotional effects of the imagery.

Multiple choice questions, comprehensions and answers on “Anthem for Doomed Youth”

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 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.

A video performance of the poem can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/poetryseason/poems/anthem_for_doomed_youth.shtml

Multiple choice quiz

 

“Anthem for Doomed Youth” is about:

a)     Gas attacks in World War 1 and the horror of war

b)     Soldiers sending letters home and lying about what has happened to them

c)      The fact they will be no proper funerals for the dead young soldiers

 

“Passing bells” means:

a)     Bells attached to fast tanks

b)     Funeral bells

c)      Bells rung for weddings

 

What will replace the “passing bells” to commemorate the dead soldiers?

a)     Holy, religious music

b)     The sound of guns

c)      Heavenly music

 

“Hasty orisons” are:

a)     Quickly made bombs

b)     A type of bread made for soldiers

c)      Hurried prayers

 

What kind of hurried prayers will be said by the soldiers?

a)     Only what the rifles stutter and rattle out

b)     The Lord’s Prayer

c)      Pleadings to God to spare them

 

Who will mourn for the dead soldiers?

a)     Their young wives

b)     Their parents

c)      Shells and bugles

 

What kind of candles will be lit to help the soldiers to heaven?

a)     Candles in church

b)     Candles placed on coffins

c)      There will be no candles, only the teary eyes of boys

 

“Pall” means:

a)     A coffin

b)     A cloth spread over a coffin

c)      A pale face

 

What kind of flowers will be at the soldiers’ funeral?

a)     Wreaths and sprays

b)     Roses and carnations

c)      The flowers will be replaced by the “tenderness of patient minds”

People drew down blinds at dusk to:

a)     Commemorate loved ones who had died

b)     Commemorate the ending of the war

c)      Commemorate their sadness at the war

 

Answers are in bold:

 

Multiple choice quiz

 

“Anthem for Doomed Youth” is about:

d)     Gas attacks in World War 1 and the horror of war

e)     Soldiers sending letters home and lying about what has happened to them

f)      The fact they will be no proper funerals for the dead young soldiers

 

“Passing bells” means:

d)     Bells attached to fast tanks

e)    Funeral bells

f)       Bells rung for weddings

 

What will replace the “passing bells” to commemorate the dead soldiers?

d)     Holy, religious music

e)    The sound of guns

f)       Heavenly music

 

“Hasty orisons” are:

d)     Quickly made bombs

e)     A type of bread made for soldiers

f)      Hurried prayers

 

What kind of hurried prayers will be said by the soldiers?

d)   Only what the rifles stutter and rattle out

e)     The Lord’s Prayer

f)       Pleadings to God to spare them

 

Who will mourn for the dead soldiers?

d)     Their young wives

e)     Their parents

f)      Shells and bugles

 

What kind of candles will be lit to help the soldiers to heaven?

d)     Candles in church

e)     Candles placed on coffins

f)      There will be no candles, only the teary eyes of boys

 

“Pall” means:

d)     A coffin

e)    A cloth spread over a coffin

f)       A pale face

 

What kind of flowers will be at the soldiers’ funeral?

d)     Wreaths and sprays

e)     Roses and carnations

f)      The flowers will be replaced by the “tenderness of patient minds”

 

People drew down blinds at dusk to:

d)   Commemorate loved ones who had died

e)     Commemorate the ending of the war

f)       Commemorate their sadness at the war

 

More detailed comprehension questions

Why is the poem called an “anthem”?

Why are the youth “doomed”?

What are “passing bells”? Why do we not hear traditional “passing bells” for those who “die as cattle”?

What is heard as a replacement for “passing bells”?

Why is the anger of the guns “monstrous”?

Why do the rifles “stutter”? What is their speed?

What are “hasty orisons”? Who is “pattering” out “hasty orisons” and why?

What “mockeries” could there be for the soldiers? Why are there no “mockeries”, no “prayers” or “bells”?

What is “mourning”?

Why are very few people “mourning” the dead soldiers?

Who or what is “mourning” the soldiers in this poem?

What “choirs” are there? Why are they “shrill” and “demented”? What do these adjectives mean?

What are “shires” and why are they “sad”? Why are “bugles” sounding in these shires?

Why might candles “speed” all the dead soldiers?

Why will the boy say goodbye to the “doomed youth” with their eyes and not with their hands?

Why will the “pallor girls’ brows be their pall”? What is a pall?

Why will the flowers commemorating the soldiers with be the “tenderness of patient minds”?

Why will blinds be drawn down in the dusk? Why will the dusk be “slow”?

 

Possible answers

Why is the poem called an “anthem”? An anthem is a song which represents a group of people, often a country or nation. Nations have “national anthems” which are songs which represent the whole nation; the British have “God Save The Queen” because the Queen is our head of state. However, the dead and dying soldiers have no “anthem” because as the poem shows they die deaths which no one knows about. No one has a chance to say goodbye to them properly in the form of a funeral or sing songs for them. The poem is an attempt to speak for all these dead and dying soldiers.

Why are the youth “doomed”? To be “doomed” is stronger even than being dead because it means in a religious sense that you are going to hell, everlasting torture. The adjective “doomed” suggests that the young people face a fate worse than death.

What are “passing bells”? Why do we not hear traditional “passing bells” for those who “die as cattle”? “Passing bells” are bells rung at funerals to indicate someone has “passed” or died. We don’t hear traditional funeral bells for the soldiers because no one knows for certain that they are dead; many soldiers were simply reported missing. They had been so badly maimed that no one could recognise them; they die like “cattle” because they are slaughtered in the way that cows are for their meat.

What is heard as a replacement for “passing bells”? The sound of the guns.

Why is the anger of the guns “monstrous”? It is monstrous for a number of reasons; it is terrifying like a monster is, but it is also “irrational” like a monster’s anger is. There appears to be no reason for this terrible anger.

Why do the rifles “stutter”? What is their speed? Owen is copying the sound of the “rat-tat-tat” of the rifle firing by using this word which has a onomatopoeic quality – the word sounds rhythmically like a rifle firing.

What are “hasty orisons”? Who is “pattering” out “hasty orisons” and why? “Hasty orisons” are “hurried prayers”? The soldiers are “pattering” our hurried prayers or saying prayers very quickly because they are terrified that they are going to die on the battlefield.

What “mockeries” could there be for the soldiers? Why are there no “mockeries”, no “prayers” or “bells”? Owen means that the dead soldiers will not be mocked by meaningless religious ceremonies because they won’t have proper funerals; no one will pray for them, and bells won’t be rung to commemorate their deaths.

What is “mourning”? Mourning is when you show and feel sorrow and grief that someone has died, usually by wearing black and acting in a sad fashion.

Why are very few people “mourning” the dead soldiers? Many people are in denial that the soldiers have died; in England, the authorities liked to ignore the fact that thousands of young people were dying.

Who or what is “mourning” the soldiers in this poem? Only the “shells” or bombs are showing their mourning.

What “choirs” are there? Why are they “shrill” and “demented”? What do these adjectives mean? The shells form the choir because there so many of them going off on the battlefield. They are “demented” or mad and “shrill”, which means to sound harsh, grating and loud.

What are “shires” and why are they “sad”? Why are “bugles” sounding in these shires? The shires are the rural or country areas and they are sad because many of their young people have died at war. Bugles are wind instruments which play “The Last Post”, a sad melody played after soldiers die.

Why might candles “speed” all the dead soldiers? Candles might “speed” the soldiers to heaven because many religious people feel that lighting candles and remembering the dead can help them get to heaven.

Why will the boys say goodbye to the “doomed youth” with their eyes and not with their hands? The boys won’t be holding candles during a funeral ceremony in order to say goodbye to the dead soldiers because there will be no proper funeral for the dead soldiers. Instead the boys will be looking sad or crying as they think of their brothers, fathers and family who have died.

Why will the “pallor girls’ brows be their pall”? What is a pall? A pall is a cloth spread across a coffin. However, there will be no proper pall for the dead soldiers only the girls looking “pale” as they remember their lost lovers, fathers and husbands.

Why will the flowers commemorating the soldiers with be the “tenderness of patient minds”? There will be no flowers to remember the soldiers by, only the tender memories of people patiently waiting for them to come back home.

Why will blinds be drawn down in the dusk? Why will the dusk be “slow”? It was a custom to mark the passing of loved ones by pulling down blinds in the window. The dusk or ending of the day will be slow because people will be remembering their lost ones.

Comprehension questions on ‘The Send Off’ together with possible answers

Why is the poem called ‘The Send Off’?

Who is walking to down the “darkening lanes”? Where have they just been possibly?

What is a siding-shed?  Why are the soldiers walking there?

What covered their chests and why? Why do they look like dead men?

Why are the men’s faces “grimly gay”?

Who “stood staring hard” at them and why?

Why do the soldiers leave “secretly, like wrongs hushed-up”?

Why might the fate of the soldiers mock flowers the women gave them?

What do we NOT know about the men?

Who comes back? Why does Owen repeat the word “few”?

Why do they “creep” back? Why are the roads “half-known”?

 

 

Possible answers: please mark your own work and other people’s if relevant.

Why is the poem called ‘The Send Off’? The poem is called ‘The Send Off’ because it is about soldiers who are being “sent off” to war.

Who is walking to down the “darkening lanes”? Where have they just been possibly? The soldiers who are about to go to war are walking down the “darkening lanes”. The title and other parts of the poem suggest that people have waved goodbye to the soldiers before they march down the “close, darkening lanes”. The soldiers are wearing “wreath and spray”; these are white flowers which are draped around and stuck to their chests. The fact that they are wearing flowers suggests that they have been given them in a “send off”. We learn later on in the poem that women have given them flowers – again this suggests some sort of leaving party or parade has happened.

What is a siding-shed?  Why are the soldiers walking there? The “siding-shed” is a shed near the railway station; the soldiers are walking there in order to wait for the train to take them to the front.

What covered their chests and why? Why do they look like dead men? The men are covered in white flowers; these flowers look like the flowers that are put on dead men during funerals. They are “wreaths”.

Why are the men’s faces “grimly gay”? This oxymoron suggests that the men are pretending to be happy – “gay” – but are actually quite “grim”; they probably know that they will die and yet they have to pretend during the send-off that everything is going to be fine.

Who “stood staring hard” at them and why? “Dull porters” and a “tramp” watch them, clearly wanting to see some other soldiers from the “upland camp” because they were “sorry to miss” the upland camp soldiers. We don’t know why the porters and the tramp were looking out for these other soldiers but it is possible they were friends or family.

Why do the soldiers leave “secretly, like wrongs hushed-up”? The soldiers leave like “wrongs hushed-up” because everyone knows that they will probably die and it seems clear that many people would like to make their departure secret and “hush-up” any discussion of them going to war. That way people can pretend the horrors of the war are not happening.

Why might the fate of the soldiers mock flowers the women gave them? The soldiers could do things which are not heroic, which are shameful; in other words, the soldiers may desert or shoot themselves so that they are injured and can’t fight.

What do we not know about the men? We don’t know what front they went to, or what battle they fought in.

Who comes back? Why does Owen repeat the word “few”? Very few soldiers come back and this is why Owen repeats the word “few” three times, emphasizing just how few people actually survive going to the front.

Why do they “creep” back? Why are the roads “half-known”? The veterans of the war “creep back” because they either injured or have been mentally affected by the war. The roads are possibly “half-known” because the soldiers are shell-shocked and don’t know exactly where they are. Or it maybe because the world has changed in their absence.

Wilfred Owen key events in his life: a concise chronology

This is from the excellent: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/education/tutorials/intro/owen/chron.html

 Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) Chronology

Year

Date

Activity

1893 18 March Born at Plas Wilmot, Oswestry, son of Tom and Susan Owen
1895 30 May Birth of his sister, Mary
1897 5 September Birth of his brother, Harold Owen. Family moves to Birkenhead
1900 11 June Starts school at Birkenhead Institute
  24 July Birth of his brother, Colin
1906   Family moves to Shrewsbury. Owen starts at Shrewsbury Technical School
1911   Works as a pupil-teacher at the Wyle Cop School, Shrewsbury.
  9 September Takes matriculation exam at the University of London
  20 October Starts as lay assistant at Dunsden, near Reading
1913 7 February Leaves Dunsden and returns to Shrewsbury
  15 September Goes to Bordeaux to teach English at Berlitz school.
1914 31 July Becomes tutor to Mme Leger
1915 18 May Returns to England and Shrewsbury.
  21 October Enlists in Artists’ Rifles
  15 November Moves to Hare Hill Camp, Gidea Park, Essex. Rank is Cadet
1916 5 March Goes to Officer’s School, Balgores House, Gidea Park
  4 June Commissioned into Manchester Regiment
  18 June Reports to 5th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment
  September Applies for transfer to Royal Flying Corps but fails to gain entrance
  29 December Embarks for France and Étaples
1917 1–2 January Joins 2nd Manchesters on the Somme, near Beaumont Hamel
  6 January Moves to front
  9–16 January Holds dug-out in no-man’s land
  20 January In front-line again, platoon exposed to severe frost- bite
  14/15 March Suffers concussion from a fall at Le Quesnoy-en-Santerre, evacuated to military hospital
  4 April Rejoins battalion at Selency
  2 May Evacuated suffering from shell-shock
  26 June Arrives at Craglockhart War Hospital, Edinburgh
  17 July Contributes to, and becomes editor of The Hydra
  17 August(?) Introduces himself to Siegfried Sassoon (fellow patient)
  13 October Sassoon introduces him to Robert Graves
  28 October Appears before Medical Board; 3 weeks leave before returning to unit
  9 Nov Meets Arnold Bennett and H. G. Wells
  24 November Joins 5th Manchesters at Scarborough
1918 26 January ‘Miners’ published in The Nation
  12 March Posted to Ripon
  4 June Graded fit for service
  5 June Rejoins 5th Manchesters at Scarborough
  15 June ‘Hospital Barge’ and ‘Futility’ published in The Nation
  31 August Returns to France and Étaples
  9 September Moves to Amiens
  29 September – 3 October Partakes in the assault on Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line. Awarded M.C.
  5 October Battalion rests at Hancourt
  30–31 October Battalion takes over line west of Oise-Sambre canal, near Ors
  4 November Killed during attack across the canal
  11 November News of death reaches Shrewsbury. Armistice signed

 

 

9-16th January 1917 – The Sentry. Wilfred Owen is stationed on the front line. He and some men venture into No Man’s Land, and get ahead of the front line, and end up in a German dugout, which a SENTRY (guard) guards. The Sentry is blown up and falls down the steps, screaming he is blind. This upset Wilfred Owen a great deal.

 

Later Wilfred Owen is blown into the air by a bomb and falls into the bloody bits of “Cock Robin”, a friend of his. This disturbs him a great deal.

 

Craiglockhart Mental Hospital, Wilfred Owen is treated by Dr. Brock, who was a very great psychiatrist; encouraged him to get out into the world, walk around Edinburgh, and write POETRY!!!

Siegfried Sassoon was a brilliant, rich, upper class poet who had written against the war and was put in mental hospital because he was against the First World War.

 

He suffers from shell-shock.

Why is Anthem for Doomed Youth such an important war poem?

Look carefully at this PowerPoint on the poem

A PowerPoint on Anthem for Doomed Youth.

You can compare different versions of the poem here as a good activity for thinking carefully about the language:

http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/projects/stylistics/topic1b/2anthem.htm

These videos might help you understand the poem:

Now have a go at the activities here:

Anthem for Doomed Youth activity

GCSE OCR English Literature controlled conditions question on the poem:

Task 11

Poems:

 Anthem for Doomed Youth and The Send Off

Compare the ways in which Owen conveys powerful feelings about war in these two poems.

You should consider:

• the situations Owen describes

• the feelings he portrays

• the language he uses and its effects.