In his poem “Strange Meeting,” Wilfred Owen uses a variety of poetic devices and techniques. These include the overall narrative strategy, which employs a first-person narrator or speaker but also incorporates second-person direct address to another person, who remains silent. The poet makes extensive use of alliteration, consonance, and assonance, which are often applied together to create word pairs, especially at the end of lines. While these pairs are very similar in sound, they do not actually rhyme. Owen uses rhyme quite sparingly.
Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds, while consonance is the repletion of such sounds anywhere in a word. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds anywhere in a word. All three are used in the second line:
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped….
Alliteration appears in the initial D sound of “down” and “dull,” along with consonance in “profound” and “scooped.” Similarly, alliteration and consonance with the S sound are used in “some,” “since,” and “scooped.” Assonance is used with the “ow” sound of “down” and “profound,” and the short U in “dull tunnel.” That phrase also uses consonance in the final L, a sound which then is used to begin “long.” These intricate combinations serve to create a complex but harmonious text that helps the reader follow along, even with the scarcity of conventional rhymes.
The intersection of these three devices creates the near-rhymes of many paired lines, such as “groined” and “groaned,” and later “grained” and “ground.” The pairing of “hall” and “Hell” suggests that the latter is a conduit through which one passes rather than a room in which to remain.
Owen sometimes takes one word of such a pair and rhymes it with a previous or subsequent line.
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
The judicious use of rhyme combined with these word pairs also contributes to the fluidity of the text, while emphasizing the grim, war-related content.