Thispaper involves an analysis of the poem “Strange Meeting” byWilfred Owen, one of the most recognized English poets of the 20thcentury, and considered as the greatest war poet in the history ofthe English language. It is important to note that the poet served asa soldier in World War I, experiencing many horrible aftermaths,especially the plight of other soldiers during and after the war. Akeen analysis of the poem under question reveals that World War 1 didnot only result in widespread destruction of towns and cities but ofthe lives of soldiers, communities, and their families. One cannotdecline to note that the poem by Owen is full of emotions,understanding, pity and knowledge of the situation of war from theperspective of a concerned and rational human being.
Areview of the life of Owen from a thorough analysis of the poemreveals that the author focused on exercising adept poetic creativitybased on experiences of shellshock. Indeed, the author demonstrates aposition of someone who witnessed the sufferings of other formersoldiers, prompting him to let out his feelings and thoughts aboutwarfare and its effects on commonplace people (including footsoldiers) as the primary victims. Put another way, “StrangeMeeting” stands out as a literary piece that explains the patheticsocial, emotional and mental states (inter alia) of soldiers afterthe war from the perspective of an involved observer.
Anin-depth analysis of the poem shows that the author uses meticulousimagery to capture the themes of pity and hopelessness as displayedby the soldiers. Apparently, he regrets that the war took place andeven sees that the part he and his fellow soldiers played was nothingshort of unwarranted if not misunderstood. He states, “None willbreak ranks though nations trek from progress” (Stanza 3, line 19).Indeed, no person dares to defy set conventions within the militaryorgans despite the arising and occurrences of wars that disrupt peaceamong communities of the world. From the above-quoted line, onecannot decline to note that the author is implying a sense of guiltand misguided responsibility altogether. An inner look furtherreveals that Owen possibly thinks of the other of his fellow soldiersas not being so much different from enemy soldiers. He identifieswith them, seemingly implying that all were, but victims of the warsave for their generals or commanders and politicians, who were, infact, responsible for the war it sure is a pity.
Atsome point in the poem, the author writes, “…must die now, I meanthe truth untold/ the pity of war” (Stanza 3, Line 14). One mightargue that he means death in the battlefield is like a necessary butunwarranted norm, which remains unaddressed or unappreciated. Theauthor goes ahead to employ imagery in an interesting form at somepoint in the poem. He speaks of sleep as a form of peace and orrelief he states, “No blood reached there…and no guns thumped”(Stanza 3, Line 2). Here, the mention of blood and guns refers tosuffering and terror. It is quite clear for the reader to see thatthe warring governments form the antagonists in the poem. Besides,the ordinary, commonplace person (soldier) is the one who suffers inthe end, the rationality of politicians is hence put under question.They order soldiers to the battlefield, where there are going to diewith little gain to themselves. Speaking of another dead enemysoldier, Owen states, “By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell”(Stanza 2, Line 7). The author, however, leaves the reader wonderingwhy the dead one was smiling to the narrator maybe he intended toconfront him again or just to sympathize with him. Nevertheless, thesoldier’s death would not be dignified in any way.
Insome way, Owen observes than men fighting each other on thebattlefield could as well be friends. Such a propagates the ideologythat war is nothing short of evil and absurd at the same time, atleast, to commonplace individuals. At some point, the author hitsback at the main forces behind the war- the generals and politicians.He states, “Now men will go content with what we spoiled” (Stanza3, line 16). From this statement, one cannot decline to note that menthat do not engage in the war at the front lines tend to feel contentwith their achievements while the rest of the foot soldiers and thelarger communities perish. Also, it is safe to say that Owen bearsthe opinion that this reality is the reason wars continue to occur-primarily because those who are truly behind them hardly comprehendthe evils and sufferings that are caused. Even so, he is keen to takeresponsibility for participating in the war- making spoils.
Inconclusion, it is safe to say that the poem discussed and or analyzedin this paper has many aspects of literary expressions, a good numberof which have not been discussed herein. On a general perspective,however, the poem is based on a reflective tone, aspects ofbitterness and irony based on the author’s experience. The mainpoint of the author, however, remains clear that war causesunnecessary pain, suffering and struggles among ordinary people thatare willing and hopeful of living peaceful, happy and satisfactorylives.
Owen,Wilfred. “Strange Meeting.” PoetryFoundation.Web, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176833.23 Mar. 2016.