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Strange Meeting

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Introduction

STRANGE MEETING (With Explanatory Notes) * "Strange Meeting" is Owen's most problematic poem. * It was written in the spring of 1918, the year Owen died. * The poem recounts the meeting in hell between the two soldiers who had fought on opposing sides. * No longer enemies, they find it possible to see beyond conflict and hatred in a shared awareness of "the truth untold" and the need to proclaim the truth. * Point of View: o "Strange Meeting" is written in first person o One can assume that the narrator is Owen. o Owen's message is delivered by the second speaker in the poem. o We are led to a speculation that the second speaker is an apparition of the first. Stanza One It seemed that out of battle I escaped Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped Through granites which titanic wars had groined. * This stanza describes the narrator's escape from war (he finds his way to hell). * "The profound dull tunnel" refers to the past of fallen soldiers from past wars. * "Titanic wars" imply not only this war, but conflicts throughout history. Stanza Two 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. ...read more.

Middle

For my glee might many men have laughed, And for my weeping something had been left, Which must die now. I mean the truth untold, The pity of war, the pity war distilled. Now men will go to content with what we spoiled, Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled. They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. * The soldiers push themselves and remain disciplined. None will break ranks, through the nations trek from progress. * Nations are reverting to barbarism Courage was mine, I had mystery, Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery: * In death, he is better of missing the war To miss the march of this retreating world * "retreating world" o Retreating from civilization Into vain citadels that are not walled. * "Vain citadels" o Meaningless conquests, plunder Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels, * "Chariot-wheels" o Allusion to conquests of antiquity and the regression of civilization. I would go up and wash them from the 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. * He would have been a poet and had nothing to do with war. Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were. * Reference to shell-shock. * The stranger speaks of the truth about war * The fact that it is hopeless. ...read more.

Conclusion

For my glee might many men have laughed, And for my weeping something had been left, Which must die now. I mean the truth untold, The pity of war, the pity war distilled. Now men will go to content with what we spoiled, Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled. They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. For my glee might many men have laughed, And for my weeping something had been left, Which must die now. I mean the truth untold, The pity of war, the pity war distilled. Now men will go to content with what we spoiled, Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled. They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. Courage was mine, 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 the 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; but my hands were loath cold. Let us sleep now....' ...read more.

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