Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen

Published: 2017-12-19 10:26:33
903 words
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Vanderbilt University
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The poem, Strange Meeting depicts a soldier who escapes from a battle only to realize that he has broken free into hell and that the enemy he had killed welcomes him into hell. Wilfred Owen wrote the piece in 1918, a period when the First World War was ending. The aspect of time is quite important in this explication since the writer highlights the case of an escapee from the war. Some of the ideas depicted include the hypocrisy of religion, soldiers suffering both emotionally and physically, the futility of being sent to hell for the battle. 

The scene is set in the first three lines through which the poet shows some uncertainty by using the word “it seemed,” at the beginning. As such, the reader is unsure whether the strange meeting occurred as a reality or not. Most importantly, the idea of escaping a battle also is one, which is conveyed, with some level of uncertainty due to the words in the opening sentence. However, the first representation in the poem is that freedom is a good thing. Nonetheless, the same liberty will be questioned later due to the reservation that is expressed at the beginning. Most importantly, the choice of words depicts severity of the escape process since Owen mentions “dull tunnels (Owen 1).” On the contrary, one would expect light at the end of a tunnel when making an escape. Thus, dark tunnels imply that the soldier runs away from a bad situation to a worse situation. As such, the aspect of running away to freedom is questionable since freedom cannot be dark or described as dull. Therefore, this can be viewed as the “tunnel to hell.” 

The term “Titanic” in the third line applies symbolically to indicate the size of the war. Clearly, Titanic was big thus implying that the wars have been big and expensive by causing a loss of human life and property. The first three lines prompt the reader to seek to know what is happening in the poem by setting a capturing scene. Additionally, the mention of death shows the reader that a negative mood exists in the plot (Casson and Eggenschwiler 52). The somber mood emerges from the fact that the poet is addressing the issue of escaping death only to find himself in a worse situation. To further highlight the grim situation, the phrase “starred… with piteous recognition” is used (Owen 1). As such, it goes beyond reasonable doubt that neither Owen nor the reader would find such a scenario pleasant. Staring at the dead must be more horrifying than engaging in war. Additionally, a slant rhyme is applied on the poem thus illustrating that Owen was concerned about how each variation would sound to the reader. Such a rhyme is unifying and creates a faint echo in the poem. 

A juxtaposition is seen where Owen mentions a smile, which is followed by the realization that the meeting was taking place in hell. Indeed, it is absurd that one can afford to smile in hell, yet religion and myth present it as an unbearable place. Furthermore, that is meant to be a place of torture and punishment. Nonetheless, a smile depicts satisfaction thus suggesting that the man in the meeting is happy to be in hell. Apparently, the poem is based on a conversation that Owen holds in the imaginary hell. The paradox is also applied in the poem where Owen addresses someone as his “strange friend” since a friend is someone that one should know or be familiar (Owen 1). On the other hand, unknown implies stranger, thus showing unfamiliarity. The text does not cause confusion but rather illustrates the nature of the events that preceded the writing of the poem. For example, due to a  horrifying situation, a person may call another person a “friend” out of desperation. As such, the term friend is used to depict despair since both the poet and his strange friend have to escape from the current situation.        

Evidently, Owen manages to hint something without mentioning it outright thus creates an exciting suspense and tension for all the readers .Interestingly, Owen highlights what one should expect in a situation of battle. The changes from the first speaker, Owen, to the second speaker, illustrate the nature of severity of the situation being faced in the fight.. Clearly, none of the parties [the two enemies] involved in the war is comfortable with such a situation of war as enormous hatred hails in their hearts. Although the poem dates back to the First World War, its message can be applied in the modern world (Roza 17). For example, currently, there are cases of racial, gang and domestic violence in different parts. Enmity has spurred between the various people for various reasons thus causing them to kill each other. The enemy or stranger is someone that one can hate strongly enough to want to kill. People are drawing themselves to war on a daily basis by hate or creating enmity between themselves and the people who hold opposing views. The intolerance within the society will be the primary cause of the next war.

Works Cited

Owen, Wilfred. "Strange Meeting". 1918,.

Roza, Greg. Patterns In Poetry. New York: Powerkids Press, 2005,.

Casson, Allan and Jean Eggenschwiler. Cliffs AP English Literature And Composition. Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley, 2011,.


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