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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 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.


N/a

Source: The Poems of Wilfred Owen, edited by Jon Stallworthy (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1986)

  • Living
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen spent much of his short, adult life as a volunteer soldier for the British military during World War I. He wrote vivid and terrifying poems about modern warfare. Owen was killed by machine gun fire just days before the end of the war. See More By This Poet

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