Wilfred Owen: Poems

Analysis of Owen's "Strange Meeting"

Wilfred Owen’s “Strange Meeting” explores an extraordinary meeting between two enemy combatants in the midst of battle. Owen forgoes the familiar poetics of glory and honor associated with war and, instead, constructs a balance of graphic reality with compassion for the entrenched soldier. In fact, the poetic appeal of the text comes from pity and sympathy for the work’s characters rather than an inflated idea of the characters’ heroism. Owen accomplishes this appeal through both narrative and device. First, the narrative in the poem is built upon shared humanity, especially in the face of death, between the speaker and the stranger, evoking the reader’s sympathies for the young men. Second, consonance, semantic connotation, onomatopoeia, and tone subtly build an impression of the characters’ piteous situation.

The poem begins with the protagonist, a soldier, moving into a tunnel to escape battle. He says, “It seemed that out of battle I escaped / Down some profound dull tunnel” (1-2). The tunnel is profound in that the realistic world above is now mute; in fact, the surreal quality of a subterranean world makes it only seem that he escapes out of battle. The tunnel itself is scooped through long-formed “granites” from previous...

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