“Anthem For Doomed Youth”: A Poem by Wilfred Owen Read by Kenneth Branagh

Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen


Anthem for Doomed Youth was written by Wilfred Owen in 1916, when he was a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, recovering from shell shock.



Excerpt from 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.


Click here to read the rest of the poem.
From the Academy of American Poets

Wilfred Owen

He was wounded in combat in 1917 and evacuated to Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh after being diagnosed with shell shock. There he met another patient, poet Siegfried Sassoon, who served as a mentor and introduced him to well-known literary figures such as Robert Graves and H. G. Wells.

It was at this time Owen wrote many of his most important poems, including “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and “Dulce et Decorum Est”. His poetry often graphically illustrated both the horrors of warfare, the physical landscapes which surrounded him, and the human body in relation to those landscapes. His verses stand in stark contrast to the patriotic poems of war written by earlier poets of Great Britain, such as Rupert Brooke.

Owen rejoined his regiment in Scarborough, June 1918, and in August returned to France. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery at Amiens. He was killed on November 4 of that year while attempting to lead his men across the Sambre canal at Ors. He was 25 years old. The news reached his parents on November 11, the day of the Armistice. The collected Poems of Wilfred Owen appeared in December 1920, with an introduction by Sassoon, and he has since become one of the most admired poets of World War I.

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5 Responses to “Anthem For Doomed Youth”: A Poem by Wilfred Owen Read by Kenneth Branagh

  1. Sunny Peneka says:

    Thank you Elaine for this reminder for Memorial Day. I am familiar with Wilfred Owen. So haunting…especially I like Strange Meeting with the unforgetable line: “I am the enemy you killed, my friend.” I learned of his poetry from Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, which contains several poems. I highly recommend that beautiful, moving piece.

  2. Powerful words read with equal power, Elaine. Branagh could read a laundry list and make it sound epic though. His Iago is still the best I’ve ever seen.

  3. Dulce Et Decorum Est: Read by Christopher Eccleston

  4. The Last Laugh by Wilfred Owen: Read by Sean Bean

  5. Elaine,
    Have you seen this version of “Anthem” by Sean Bean?

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