'The Young Soldier' by Wilfred Owen

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It is not death
Without hereafter
To one in dearth
Of life and its laughter,Nor the sweet murder
Dealt slow and even
Unto the martyr
Smiling at heaven:It is the smile
Faint as a (waning) myth,
Faint, and exceeding small
On a boy's murdered mouth.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Young Soldier: A Literary Masterpiece by Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen is a renowned poet whose contribution to the world of literature is invaluable. He is known for his poems that portray the horrors of war, the futility of heroism, and the physical and psychological scars left on soldiers after wars. One of his most famous poems is The Young Soldier, which was written in 1917. The poem captures the essence of war in a vivid and striking manner, leaving the reader with a deep sense of sadness and despair. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will analyze The Young Soldier and explore the various themes, literary devices, and elements that make it a masterpiece.

Literary Devices

The Young Soldier is a poem of great literary significance, and one of the reasons for this is the numerous literary devices employed by the poet. The poem is characterized by the use of vivid imagery, metaphors, and similes that help to create a powerful sense of despair and loss. One of the most striking metaphors in the poem is the use of the phrase "the pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall" (line 4). This metaphorical image conveys the idea that the young soldiers who die in battle will be mourned by their loved ones, and that their deaths will leave a lasting impact on those who survive them.

Another literary device used in the poem is irony. The poet uses irony to highlight the senseless and futile nature of war. For instance, in the lines "And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan / Sad tunes; but all was rottenness and stench" (lines 9-10), the poet describes the aftermath of a battle in which there is no sound of guns or music, but only the stench of death and decay. This irony serves to underscore the fact that war is a pointless and destructive endeavor that leaves nothing but death and destruction in its wake.


The Young Soldier is a poem that deals with several themes, including the horrors of war, the futility of heroism, and the impact of war on soldiers and their families. One of the most significant themes in the poem is the horrors of war. The poet vividly describes the scenes of battle, the "shrapnel-shot" and the "shell-strewn track" (lines 7-8), and the "rottenness and stench" (line 10) that are left behind in its wake. These descriptions serve to emphasize the destructive and dehumanizing nature of war.

Another theme in the poem is the futility of heroism. The young soldier in the poem dies a meaningless death, and there is no glory or heroism in his demise. The poet implies that the young soldier’s death is a waste, and that there is no honor or valor in dying for a cause that is ultimately pointless. By portraying the young soldier’s death in this manner, the poet exposes the fallacy of the heroic ideal and suggests that true heroism lies in resisting the call to war and working towards peace.

Finally, the impact of war on soldiers and their families is another theme in the poem. The poet describes the "pallor of girls’ brows" (line 4) and the "mothers’ tears" (line 6) that result from the loss of a loved one. These descriptions serve to highlight the emotional toll that war takes on those who are left behind. The poet suggests that the impact of war is not limited to the battlefield, but extends to the families and loved ones of soldiers as well.


The Young Soldier is a poem that speaks to the senseless and destructive nature of war. The poet uses vivid imagery, metaphors, and irony to create a powerful sense of loss and despair. The poem challenges the heroic ideal and suggests that true heroism lies in working towards peace and resisting the call to war. The impact of war on soldiers and their families is also explored, and the poem serves as a reminder of the emotional toll that war takes on those who are left behind.

The Young Soldier is a powerful and evocative poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Its message is timeless and universal, and its portrayal of war as a destructive and dehumanizing force remains relevant. The poem serves as a powerful reminder of the need for peace and the importance of working towards a world in which war is no longer necessary.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has the power to evoke emotions and convey messages that are often difficult to express through other forms of communication. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "The Young Soldier" by Wilfred Owen. This classic piece of literature is a poignant reflection on the horrors of war and the impact it has on young soldiers. In this article, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this powerful poem.

Wilfred Owen was a British poet who served as a soldier during World War I. He wrote many poems that were inspired by his experiences on the battlefield, and "The Young Soldier" is one of his most famous works. The poem was written in 1917, during the height of the war, and it reflects the disillusionment and despair that many soldiers felt at the time.

The poem begins with a description of a young soldier who is marching off to war. The soldier is described as being "gay" and "young," which suggests that he is full of hope and optimism. However, as the poem progresses, it becomes clear that this hope is misplaced. The soldier is soon confronted with the harsh realities of war, and his innocence is shattered.

The second stanza of the poem describes the soldier's experiences on the battlefield. He is described as being "weary" and "lame," which suggests that he has been through a lot. The soldier is also described as being "blind," which could be interpreted as a metaphor for his lack of understanding of the true nature of war. He is simply following orders and doing what he has been told, without fully comprehending the consequences of his actions.

The third stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. It describes the soldier's death, and the impact it has on those around him. The soldier is described as being "cold" and "dead," which highlights the finality of his passing. The poem also describes the soldier's comrades as being "mute" and "dumb," which suggests that they are unable to express their grief and sorrow. The final line of the stanza, "And no one seemed to care," is particularly poignant. It suggests that the soldier's death has been forgotten, and that he has been reduced to a mere statistic in the war.

The final stanza of the poem is a reflection on the futility of war. The poet asks the question, "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?" This line is a reference to the fact that soldiers were often treated like animals during the war, and were sent to their deaths without any regard for their humanity. The poet also asks the question, "Only the monstrous anger of the guns." This line suggests that the true cause of the war is not noble ideals or patriotism, but rather the greed and aggression of those in power.

In conclusion, "The Young Soldier" is a powerful and moving poem that reflects the horrors of war and the impact it has on young soldiers. The poem is a reminder that war is not glorious or heroic, but rather a brutal and senseless waste of human life. Wilfred Owen's use of language and imagery is masterful, and his message is as relevant today as it was a century ago. This poem is a testament to the power of poetry to convey important messages and evoke emotions that are difficult to express in any other way.

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