Dear Diary, I just killed an enemy soldier, and now it's totally freaking me out! It seems like we'd been under fire for days. We hadn't left the trenches in… oh, I don't know how long. I hardly remember his face. When I lifted my bayonet it was as if I was dreaming. I don't know what propelled my arm, but all of a sudden he was motionless. Dead. Now that's what I keep seeing every time I close my eyes. If I can't forget, I'll never sleep again. Fearfully, Wilfred Owen
We know this poem has way more going on than any measly diary entry, but it's worth pointing out that Wilfred Owen was definitely pulling material from his personal experience to write this one. Sure, we can't vouch for its total accuracy, but Owen was a British soldier in World War I. WWI was one of the bloodiest and most gruesome wars ever, and Owen wasn't spared any of this. He shot and killed enemy soldiers, and was shot at himself. He experienced so much trauma on the battlefield that he had to be given temporary leave for shell shock (what we'd call PTSD today).
Wilfred Owen didn't write a ton of poetry. He wrote most of his poems over a span of a year, and many of them were about the war, because what else was there to write about? He was completely engrossed in the fighting for years.
"Strange Meeting," published posthumously in 1920, hits a particularly eerie note because it portrays the speaker in conversation with a dead guy—specifically a soldier he's responsible for killing—and, oh yeah, they're in hell. We're thinking this is the kind or horrifying scenario that only a World War I poet could envision.
Was Owen clairvoyant? Could he foresee that he'd meet his maker in the battlefield? Who knows, but that's just what happened. In November of 1918, Owen was killed in action. Although he died young (he was only twenty-five at the time), his poems live on as some of the most vivid and powerful war poetry written in history.
Right now, as you read this, there is war going on in the world. As you skim through your Instagram feed and check out the snack situation in the fridge, one soldier may be killing another soldier.
And, to be honest, you don't have to travel to the battlefield to find enemies killing one another. Turn on the news. There's gang violence. There's racial violence. There's domestic violence. People have made enemies of each other for all kinds of reasons, and they're killing each other because of it. We're not bringing this up to be the world's biggest downers, we're pointing it out because this poem, which was written a century ago, still has plenty to offer the ears of today.
And what's it saying? That this enemy, this person you've either learned or decided to hate enough to kill, might not be all that different from you after all. And what's the point, really? If you're going to make this huge sacrifice—killing another human being and potentially losing your own life in battle—it should probably be for a really good reason. If war does nothing but push us backwards as a country (which is what Owen believed), then all that fighting and killing is probably a pretty dumb idea. You're better off using your powers for good, like becoming the best poet of your generation. Or, in Owen's case, you do both.
In the elegy “strange Meeting “, Owen brings the horrors of wars and their devastating effect on those involved, he emphasizes their part in hindering the world from progress . War and death are presented in this poem through the story of two dead soldiers ,who fought on opposite sides , and who meet again in Hell . They speak of their shared hopefulness of the “undone years ” . Owen’s manipulation of words and his use of artistic devices in the poem takes the reader to a vivid awareness of the real dreadfulness of battles and death. The speaker in the poem ,who is a soldier, starts the poem by saying that he seemed to ” escape” the battle to somewhere else , a place he discovers later to be Hell . The mere use of the word ” escape ” implies that the speaker was trapped in war before he escapes to Hell which is , when compared to battle, a relief.
Owen says that common words associated with wars like chivalry , courage and gallantry do not describe wars, not really, instead war is pain , sorrow and loss . He emphasizes on the destructiveness of wars to those involved . He says ” yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned ” , so they are ” encumbered ” physically with their uniforms and sacks and emotionally with too much sadness and sorrow brought to them by war . Those sleepers are ” too fast in thought or death ” to be stirred . One of those sleepers ” sprang up ” from death and smiles , although he smiles but still it is a smile of death . That man recognizes the speaker for he, the speaker, is the one who killed him as we know later in the poem . The poet describes this other man’s face as ” grained ” with ” a thousand pains “, pains from his previous life and past experiences in battle . Now they are in Hell , a place of anguish and despair , a place where shouts of pain and torment is expected , but oh no , not in this poem .
Hell is a quit place where there is silence ” yet no blood reached there from the upper ground ” ” and no guns thumped , or down the flues made moan ” . So Own draws a picture of silence in Hell and contrasts this picture with battle where noise, blood and moans are everywhere . The speaker says about Hell that ” here is no cause to mourn ” no more grief or sadness . The stranger agrees with him ” None ” as if they are both relieved that it finally Al Neghaimshi 2 ended , finally they will rest . ” Save the undone years , the hopelessness ” This is their only regret . They shared so many in the past , the two of them , similar lives , experiences and similar horrors and pains that they could be called “friends ” in spite of the fact that they are actually strangers . “Strange Friend ” as paradoxical as it seems but still true , ” Whatever hope is yours , was my life also ” .
Owen argues that wars ” trek” the nations from progress and he calls it ” retreating world ” . The poet says ” when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels ” he would go and ” wash them ” . Owen takes into his hands as a poet ” to warn ” as he said himself once , ” Even with truths that lies too deep ” . He says he will do it ” not through wounds ; not on the cess of war ” , so it is not through innocent people , not through wars that destroys the lives of many . ” Forehead of men have bled where no wounds were ” that’s a clear indication to the myth of Christ which says that before he was crucified his body sweat blood , He was the one who paid for the sins of the humankind and so are those men paying their lives in wars whom foreheads ” bled where no wounds were ” .
” I am the enemy you killed , my friend ” a beautiful line towards the end of the poem . Although we stand in life different and enemies , but we shared the same experience and will share the same destiny . He closes the poem by saying ” let us sleep now ..” let us finally rest and forget the horrors and pains . So ironic of Owen to let his protagonist finally rest in ” Hell” . Aren’t people who fight for their countries are supposed to be martyrs and go to Heaven ? It is Owen’s way of doubting the cause which wars stand for , the cause after all is false . Owen by letting his two protagonist rest in Hell , he also conveys the message that Mankind must seek reconciliation , stop this bloodshed , they must embrace pity and love for each other . Owen writes this beautiful elegy that talks about war and death , but what is most ironical is that he himself dies in war .