Commonplace: Wilfred Owen, “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.

-Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth.” Owen was killed in action days before the Armistice in 1918. I’ve long thought we should mourn our dead along with England and Europe on this day that ended the Great War, the First World War. May and spring would be a better time to honor our veterans. 

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