Comment on the relationship between the two speakers in "Strange Meeting" by Wilfred Owen.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The conversation between the two poet-soldiers is one that is of particular interest in Owen's poetry, as he seems to have created a kind of alter-ego that allows him to communicate his thoughts and feelings about war and how terrible it is. By picking two "common men" who act as his mouthpiece, Owen is able to comment upon the futility of war and the way that there will always be men, who, in spite of the futility of war, endeavour to go "Into vain citadels that are not walled." As the tragic ending of this poem shows, the cost of such attempts will be paid well and truly by the common soldier who ends up being a pawn in the game that more important people play for conquest and territory.

The way in which the two soldiers remain anonymous in this poem yet manage to form a friendship and a bond in spite of being on different sides makes this poem a poignant elegy for the many dead soldiers who gave their lives for a conflict that was meaningless to so many of them. Through their relationship, Owen seems to be suggesting that war is something that is little more than two strangers who could be friends killing each other. In their death, the two characters of this poem achieve the unity and friendship that they were denied during their lives:

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 and cold.
Let us sleep now...'

Through showing this relationship and the cost of war in very real and human terms, Owen is hoping to prevent further wars in the future.


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