Strange Meeting Poem Analysis Summary Questions Answers

Strange Meeting Analysis Summary Questions Answers 

Strange Meeting is one the most characteristic war poems of Wilfred Owen. The poet imagines himself to have strayed into a dark tunnel, strewn with dead bodies of strangers. One of the strangers suddenly jumps up and stands staring at the poet. Through the conversation, the horror and brutality and the pity of war were exposed.



Wilfred Owen Strange Meeting Analysis Summary Questions Answers




Strange Meeting 
Wilfred Owen 

It seemed that out of battle I escaped 
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped 
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred. 
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell. 
With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
'Strange friend', I said, 'here is no cause to mourn'.
'None', said the other, 'save the undone years',
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also: I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity was distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled. 
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled. 
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
To miss the march of this retreating world 
Into vain citadels that are not walled. 
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells, 
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned 
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; by my hands were loath and cold,
Let us sleep now...

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Summary of the poem Strange Meeting:


The poet imagines that he has strayed from the battle-field into a dark tunnel where a dead soldiers are huddled together. As the poet examines them closely one of the dead men jumps up and looks at him with eyes full of pity and sorrow. He smiles and by that smile the poet comes to know that he is in hell. The face of the man looks painful, though he has actually no cause of sufferings, for he is far away from the battle-field, the only place where men suffer. The stranger replies that there is no cause for mourning here, except that here he has nothing to hope for. In his life-time he loved beauty and hoped like other men. What grieves him is the fact that his premature death has deprived the world of the joy that he might have given it. Moreover, the truth that he has learnt in the battlefield will ever remain untold because of his death. This truth is the pity of war. Now that he is dead men will remain satisfied with those romantic notions which are responsible for the destruction of human lives through war. Those who will become discontented with the ways of thought that led to war or break out into revolt against the war-mongers will be killed. They will be fierce and cruel like the tiger and will keep together even when nations move away from the path of progress. He had the courage and wisdom to refuse to join the march of the world into the camp of reaction. A time will come when men will learn through bloodshed the falsity of their war-ideals. Then if he were alive he could have brought them the cleansing and healing of the truths revealed to him. Then he tells the poet that he is the enemy whom the latter jabbed and killed yesterday on the battlefield. 

Wilfred Owen as a poet:

Wilfred Owen was born on March 18, 1893 at Oswestery, a small town in Shropshire in England. The first World War broke out in 1914 and he joined the war in 1915. He had an injury to his brain for a fall in the battlefield. On November 4, 1918 he was killed in an attempt to cross the 

Wilfred Owen, one of the victims of the First World War, is as Blunden says, the greatest of the war poets apart from Siegfried Sassoon. He discards the usual romantic notions about war. He thinks war to have no glory, nothing to crown man with undying honour. 

The few poems he left us indicate that he was a great thinker, and a critic of life. The pictures of war drawn by his suggestive words fill the readers with profound pity ; 'pity of war' is the subject of his poetry. He finds nothing glorious, romantic or heroic in war. 

He began his poetic career with Keats and Tennyson as his models. It was the friendship with Sassoon that made him a war poet. He wrote his poems in the trenches and exposed the horror and pity of war.


Chief Works of Wilfred Owen:

The chief works of Wilfred Owen include - "The Send Off", " Strange Meeting ", " Spring Offensive"


Technical innovations of Wilfred Owen in Strange Meeting:

Wilfred Owen's two technical innovations in the poem "Strange Meeting" are - para-rhyme or half-rhyme and internal rhyming. Para-rhyme is a kind of rhyme which involves consonants rhyme with vowel dissonance like "mystery- mastery", "world - walled" etc. Internal rhyming involves the rhyming of the words or part of words in a single sentence. For example, in the line "Lifting distressful hands as if to bless". Here "lif" rhymes with "if" and "tress" rhymes with "bliss". 


Publication of the poem Strange Meeting:

The poem "Strange Meeting" is without date in the manuscript, But it was probably written in the last months of the poet’s life. The poem "Strange Meeting" was published in the year 1921 in the poetry collection titled 'Poems by Wilfred Owen with an introduction by Siegfried Sassoon'.


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Questions Answers from the poem Strange Meeting:

1. Why is the meeting called strange? 

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's poem "Strange Meeting", the poet speaks of a meeting between himself and a dead German soldier in a dark tunnel. This meeting is strange because in reality such a meeting between a living and a dead is not possible. Actually this meeting is arranged to reveal the truth underlying war, which is the theme of the poem. The title "Strange Meeting" reflects the theme of the poem and hence it is appropriate. 

2. "Lifting distressful hands as if to bless" - Why does the dead soldier's lifting hands seem to bless to the poet?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting" in response to the address of the poet, the dead German soldier lifts his hands and it seems to the poet a gesture of blessing because the poet thinks that the dead German soldier is blessing him for being killed by the poet and thereby relieved from the pains of the limitless bloodshed and inhuman massacre of gory battle field. 

3. "Here is no cause of mourn" - Why does the poet think so?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting", the poet tells the dead German soldier that there is no cause for mourning or lamentation caused by the loss or unfulfilled desire. But being killed in the battlefield by the poet the dead German soldier is completely bereft of the power to feel any earthly loss or earthly desire.

4. What according to the dead German soldier, the only cause of mourning in the dark tunnel?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting", the dead German soldier tells the poet that there is only one cause of mourning for his being killed in the battlefield. If he could live in the world, he could inform people of the truth underlying war - the pity of war and thereby do good to the world. He has only regret for the years that he might have lived on the earth for preaching the ideal of peace and harmony.

5. What kind of beauty did the dead German soldier pursue in his life time?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting", the dead German soldier tells the poet that in his life-time he searched frantically for the 'wildest beauty', that is the most romantic and eternal beauty in the world, Which involves not any sensuous beauty of the calm eyes of fair girls or the braided locks of their hair, But a noble ideal of peace and harmony on the earth. Here Owen's idea of beauty is somewhat akin to that of Keats' : "Beauty is truth, truth beauty". 


6. Explain the line - "And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here".

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting", the dead German soldier tells the poet that being killed in the battlefield, he has lost the opportunity to pursue the most romantic beauty, that is the true and noble ideal of peace and harmony. If this beauty has any reason to grieve, it has a greater cause to grieve for in the mundane world than it has here in world of dead. 


7. "The pity war distilled" - What does the expression suggest?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting", the dead German soldier tells the poet that if he could live in the world, he might have informed people of the truth underlying war which is pity that is distilled by war as its only essence that is suppressed by the inhuman civilians who send the innocent youths mercilessly to the jaws of death.


8. "Vain citadels that are not walled" - What does the expression suggest in the poem?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting", the dead German soldier explains to the poet the meaninglessness underlying the war-mongers' obsession with war. He says that the blind pursuit of war expedites only the retrogressive march of the nation to savagery and the consequent destruction. Instead of progress, the world is now retreating towards an unprotected and undefensible position. 


9. When and how would the dead German soldier inform the people the truth underlying war?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's poem "Strange Meeting", the dead German soldier tells the poet that if he could live in the mundane world, he could inform the people of the truth underlying war. He says that when the chariot wheels of the war-mongers would have been obstructed by excessive blood, he would have sprinkled his pure and healing water of truth from his well of knowledge and wisdom on the ignorant and innocent people who are exploited and intentionally made unaware of the truth underlying war by the selfish civilians. 


10. "Foreheads of men have bled where no wound were" - What does the line suggest?

Ans: In Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting", the dead German soldier speaks to the poet of the innocent people who are forced to go to the battlefield by the ruthless and selfish civilians and politicians. He says that the woundless foreheads of the innocent people are bled in war. Here there is an allusion to the forehead of Christ bleeding because of the crown of thorn thrust upon his head.


11. What is Wilfred Owen's attitude in the poem "Strange Meeting" ?

Ans: Wilfred Owen's "Strange Meeting" reeks of the poet’s anti-war attitude. Through the voice of a dead German soldier the poet reveals the pity underlying war and thereby tries to make the people disillusioned of war. Here the poet’s voice of protest for the inhuman massacre in war is mixed with a muffled mockery at the selfishness and ruthlessness of the civilians and politicians. 


12. "I am the enemy you killed, my friend./ I knew you in this dark:" - How does the expression suggest the dark side of war in the poem "Strange Meeting" ?

Ans: Once the poet strayed from the battlefield into a dark tunnel where a dead German soldier confronted him. The dead man was lamenting his death as it prevented him from fulfillment of his hope and revealing to the world the truth underlying war. He foresaw the whole world marching in broken ranks away from progress. When men would learn through profuse bloodshed in war, the falsity of their vain romantic ideals about war would be shattered. He told the poet that he was the German soldier whom the latter killed. Even in the darkness of the underground vault he could recognize him as his killer.

Nothing exposes the inhuman brutality and horror of war so starkly as this speech of the dead soldier. The killer and the killed are completely unknown to each other; nor do they bear each other any enmity; yet they jab and kill each other under the influence of a blind impulse that war brings into play.


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