One of the many things I have become interested in since reading Parade’s End is the horror and devastation of the First World War; not just in general sweeping subjects, but in regards to the individual.

Young men were sent of to slaughter, ignorant of the real carnage they were to experience. In Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth Owen touches soberly on the unnecessary deaths treated without the respect they deemed. This, I believe, is as poignant now as it was to Owen then.

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

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 good-byes.
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.

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I read this in year ten in my lit course and it’s one of the few poets I remember in our World War One poetry unit (Owen and Sassoon were the big names). It’s tragic how themes Owen noted in the early 20th century about death and loss and war are still relevant today.