Arms and the Boy

You can read the poem here and listen to it here.


Owen most probably got the idea for his title from Sassoon’s poem “Arms and the Man”. “Arms and the Boy” was written in May, 1918, while Owen was at Ripon. In Owen’s draft Table of Contents, he put this poem under the heading of “Protest” and “The Unnaturalness of Weapons.” (Stallworthy)

A soldier training with a bayonet.


  • bayonet: the sharpened blade that is attached to the end of a rifle
  • malice: ill-will; to desire to harm someone
  • famishing: extremely hungry
  • nuzzle: cuddle in close, leading with a nose
  • cartridges: a bullet.
  • zinc: a metal used in the making of bullets.
  • supple: soft and flexible
  • talons: the claws of birds like eagles and hawks

    “…cartridges of fine zinc teeth.” (An image of WWI ammunition, from wikipedia).

Guiding Questions

  • Why does Owen personify the weapons of warfare?
  • What comment is Owen making about God in this poem?


Owen, Wilfred, and Jon Stallworthy. The War Poems of Wilfred Owen. London: Chatto & Windus, 1994. Print. pg. 41.