NEED TO KNOW:
‘anthem’: a choral hymn or song
‘passing bells’: a church bell or other bell rung when someone has died
‘orisons’: prayers (spoken aloud)
‘bugles’: brass musical instruments like a small trumpet, traditionally used by fox-hunters or by soldiers to give signals to other huntsmen or soldiers
‘shires’: British counties where the soldiers’ homes were – men from a particular county (e.g. Lancashire, Gloucestershire, Norfolk) were often grouped in regiments with their county’s name
‘candles’: traditionally carried by choirboys at church services, including funerals
‘speed’: send onward with good wishes – people used to wish travellers ‘Godspeed’ (like ‘fare well’) as they began a journey
‘pallor’: paleness of face – a sign of shock or grief
‘pall’: a cloth covering draped over a coffin or a tomb
‘drawing down of blinds’: it was (and in places still is) the custom to close the curtains of a house when someone who lived there had just died – as both a mark of respect and a way of telling the neighbourhood what had happened
TWO FAMOUS POEMS FROM THE FIRST WORLD WAR
| for the fallen | anthem for a doomed youth |
| the story of the poem | what does the poem say? |
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 for them from prayers or 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 n their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.