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“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens


Wilfred Owen is often considered as one of the eminent war poets in English literature who exhibits real pathos in his poems. His war poetry shows an astonishing advance in expressions as well as contents. Owen had previous experimented with a variety of new technical devices, such as half–rhymes, pare- rhymes and was at present an outstanding burst of poetry to make his remonstration at the savagery and futility of war from the astringent experience of the life in the battle field.

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Main Discussion

Wilfred Owens’s poem, Strange meeting explores the horror and futility of war in this world. The entire poem is written in the form of an elegy; lamenting the death of a soldier or poet who participated in World War I and it is also a record of war. This underworld is demonstrated as a long, dark and gloomy tunnel and the poet smells death. The poet identifies the crowd of sleepers who groan in their sleep. The poet feels difficulty to find whether they are dead or alive. Suddenly, one of them springs up and looks at the poet with pitiable recognition. With a distressful realization, the poet identifies the German soldier whom the poet found was killed. Poet says; “Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared/ With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,/ Lifting distressful hands as if to bless” (Owen 7).

The poet feels neither angry nor vile, but he is full of pity as he understands that both of them were the victims of war. Reader can see the expression of humanity among the soldiers. Two men had some fearful experiences on the battlefield. The online article entitled Strange Meeting comments that; “The two men had already shared one terrible, intimate moment – the moment of killing” (Strange meeting). The poet identifies that both of them who are enemies on the earth becomes friends. He also feels a rare type of beauty and pleasure and the timeless beauty that blended in itself – all that is strange and romantic. Owen illustrates the beauty and peace which he found in the new world. Also, he remembers the horror and futility of war in his poem Strange Meeting. Aránzazu Usandizaga and Andrew Monnickendam state that;“Yet in poems like Owens’s Strange Meeting and Dulce et Decorum Est, something like a passive, paralyzed war guilt does seep in to the basic structure” (Usandizaga and Monnickendam 213). The poet heard the apparition and realized that there was no cause of grief in this world except the memory of years wasted on the earth as the profession of a soldier. The dead soldier’s smile haunts the poet because the dead soldier felt sympathy for the poet. According to him, hell was a relief after the battle. But, for the poet it was a hall of death.

Poet realizes the truth that the war that follows will be certainly more ferocious and violent and its results would be deterioration to barbarism or extreme savagery. In this new world the speaker would not join a war that is a march from progress. In other words, the poet would charge to the battle field when the chariot wheels are crammed with blood. Then he would wash the faces and wounds of the soldiers. The speaker cures the wounded soldiers with the fundamental truth such as brotherhood, love, racial equality, justice and freedom. The phrase ‘sweet wells’ reveals the wells of human values such as love , justice, racial equality and freedom. One can see that Owens’s pacifism reached its zenith in his poem Strange Meeting. His experience at Craig Lockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh forced him to write more about the futility of war. The war dreams persisted for most of his stay and affected him on occasions for the rest of the life.

In line number 24- 25, Owen explores his protest and frustration against war. Here the stranger (dead soldier) regrets the loss of a chance to warn the existing world about the truth of war. In his poem entitled Futility; the poet describes the death of the soldiers who will not wake up to the touch of the sun. The poet states that; “I mean the truth untold/, The pity of war, the pity war distilled” (Owen 7).

In the concluding part of the poem, Owen convinces that the world will carry on the traditional manner either contented with the destruction or caused in war or change to violence with annoyance. Finally, the stranger tells the poet that he is the man killed by the poet on the previous day. There are no signs of hatred in his heart and he addresses the poet as a friend. The poet signs; “I am the enemy you killed, my friend” (Owen 7).


To conclude, Owen’s poem Strange Meeting is one of the best poems ever written on the pity and horror of the war. As a soldier with harsh experience in the battle field; Wilfred Owen perfectly demonstrates its real horror in his poem Strange Meeting. The poem opens in a grim ambiance of hell, but it ends a peaceful state beyond the reach of earth. Analyzing the poem Strange Meeting, one can realize it expresses the futility and horror of war. The poet’s experience in the battlefield promotes a sense of reality into the poem.

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Works Cited

Owen, Wilfred. Poems by Wilfred Owen. Echo Library. 2007. Web.

Strange meeting. The Wilfred Owen Association. 2010. Web.

Usandizaga, Aranzazu. and Monnickendam Andrew. Dressing up for War: Transformations of Gender and Genre in the Discourse and Literature of War. Rodopi. 2001. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 30). “Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, December 30). “Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens.

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"“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens." StudyCorgi, 30 Dec. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens." December 30, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens." December 30, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens." December 30, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owens'. 30 December.

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