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An Analysis of Wilfred Owen’s Strange Meeting

Strange Meeting is a poem written by Wilfred Owen. It tells about the atrocities of World War I. For the first time, the poem was published in 1919 after author’s death. World War I is the central element in all Owen's poems. Strange Meeting is narrated by a soldier who goes to tunnel to escape the hell of the battles. The soldier hears the groan of sleepers and when he looks at them, one of them stands up. This soldier moves toward him holding his hands as if to bless the narrator. The "dead smile" of this soldier could clearly show the speaker that he appeared in Hell. This is how he meets the enemy soldier and how the strange meeting occurs. The dead man starts talking about the horror of war and everyone’s inability. According to many critics, that man in hell is the soldier's double. An encounter with own double is a widely used trope in Romantic literature, which can be found in works of such famous writers as Dickens, Shelley, and Yeats, and others.

The dead man is the “Other,” but he is not just a reflection of the speaker — as he is dead, he is not an enemy anymore. Another critic sees this poem as a dream vision. Maybe there was no escaping through a tunnel, but it was descending into the soldier’s mind. From this point of view, the poem becomes a psychological and mythological journey. According to Elliot B. Gose, Jr., the “Other” is the speaker’s unconscious, and this is how he find his primal self from which he has been separated by war.

The style of Strange Meeting was influenced by several sources. The poem resembles of Dante’s pitying of the tortured people in Hell, Keats and Shelley, and the underworld of Landor's Gebir. Owen was a great fan of Keats and Shelley and it is no wonder if he took something from their style. In particular, Owen admired of The Revolt of Islam and The Fall of Hyperion. These works certainly influenced the creation of the poem Strange Meeting. The Fall of Hyperion tells about the goddess of memory that reveals her blank eyes and dying but immortal face, allowing the poet to grasp her knowledge of wars. Owen in his work emphasizes on truth and dreams, which also resonates of Keats’ works.

The title of the poem, Owen may be taken from Shelley's work: “…whom now strange meeting did befall…” In The Revolt of Islam that was written by Shelley in 1817, Laon tells his soldiers that they should not punish the enemies who have destroyed their camp but to ask them instead to throw down their arms and show shared humanity. This is how two sides had a "strange meeting".

Strange Meeting is a poem written by Wilfred Owen. It tells about the atrocities of World War I. For the first time, the poem was published in 1919 after author’s death. World War I is the central element in all Owen's poems. Strange Meeting is narrated by a soldier who goes to tunnel to escape the hell of the battles.

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100001962
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CREATED ON
1 October 2016
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3 October 2016
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