Strange Meeting: AHSEC Class 12 Alternative English notes

strange meeting isc 11
Share with others

Get summaries, questions, answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF and guide of Class 12 (second year) Alternative English textbook, chapter/poem 3, Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen, which is part of the syllabus of students studying under AHSEC/ASSEB (Assam Board). These solutions, however, should only be treated as references and can be modified/changed. 

Select news version
ISC Class 11 English notes version
AHSEC/ASSEB Class 12 Alternative English notes version

If you notice any errors in the notes, please mention them in the comments


“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen is a poem that probes into the horrors and futility of war, capturing a surreal encounter between two soldiers from opposing sides in the afterlife. The poem begins with the speaker describing his escape from the battlefield into a deep, dull tunnel, reminiscent of Hell. This tunnel, carved through granite by titanic wars, is filled with the groans of sleeping or dead soldiers.

As the speaker explores, he encounters a soldier who suddenly springs to life. This soldier, with a fixed, piteous expression, raises his hands as if in a gesture of blessing. Recognizing this eerie, sullen hall by the dead soldier’s smile, the speaker realizes they are in Hell. Despite the fear etched on the soldier’s face, there is no blood or sound of battle here.

The conversation that follows reveals deep insights. The newly awakened soldier, referring to the speaker as “strange friend,” acknowledges the shared futility and sorrow of their experiences. He laments the lost years and hopelessness, stating that whatever hope the speaker had was once his too. He reflects on pursuing a beauty beyond physical appearances, a beauty that mocks time and grieves richer than the sadness of their current state.

The dead soldier regrets that his joy and sorrow, which could have touched others, are now lost. He speaks of the truth untold and the distilled pity of war. The poem critiques how people will either be content with the ruined world or will continue to engage in bloody conflict, perpetuating destruction. The soldier notes that war’s courage and wisdom only lead to vain citadels, not true progress.

He then reveals a profound twist: he is the enemy the speaker killed in battle. This recognition underscores the senselessness of war, where enemies are just as human as oneself. The dead soldier’s loath, cold hands symbolize the forced nature of their violent encounter. The final line, “Let us sleep now,” serves as a metaphor for death, suggesting a longing for peace and rest that can only be found in the afterlife, free from the pain and anguish of war.

Throughout the poem, Owen uses vivid metaphors to convey his themes. The “profound dull tunnel” represents the dark and endless despair of war. The “titanic wars” metaphorically describe the colossal, overwhelming conflicts that shape their fates. The “wildest beauty in the world” symbolizes an elusive ideal of perfection or truth that is impossible to capture in a war-torn reality. The “chariot-wheels” clogged with blood depict the halted progress of civilization due to continuous conflict. Lastly, the “dead smile” and “fixed eyes” of the encountered soldier poignantly illustrate the dehumanizing and devastating impact of war on individuals.

Owen’s “Strange Meeting” challenges the traditional view of war as noble and heroic by highlighting its brutal, pointless nature and the common humanity shared by all soldiers, regardless of which side they fight on. The poem ultimately calls for a recognition of this shared humanity and a move towards peace and reconciliation.

Register Login

Line-by-line explanation

It seemed that out of battle I escaped / Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped / Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

The speaker begins by describing a sensation of having escaped the horrors of battle. This escape leads him down a deep, dark tunnel. The tunnel feels ancient and heavy, as though it has been carved out of solid granite long ago by immense, world-shaking wars. These wars are described as “titanic,” implying they were monumental and catastrophic, leaving behind this tunnel as a testament to their destructive power.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned, / Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.

Within this tunnel, the speaker encounters figures who are burdened or restricted. These figures are making groaning sounds, conveying deep pain or sorrow. They are described as being “too fast in thought or death,” meaning they are either deeply lost in their thoughts or already dead, rendering them incapable of movement or action.

Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared / With piteous recognition in fixed eyes, / Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.

As the speaker moves among these sleepers, he examines them more closely. Suddenly, one of the figures comes to life and looks directly at the speaker. This figure’s eyes are fixed with a look of sorrowful recognition, as if they know the speaker. The figure raises their hands in a gesture that seems both distressed and blessing-like, indicating a complex mix of emotions, possibly forgiveness or a plea for understanding.

And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall, – / By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

The speaker recognizes the place they are in by the grim smile of this awakened figure. This “dead smile” conveys a sense of finality and despair, confirming to the speaker that they are in Hell. This realization is profound and unsettling, marking the place as one of ultimate suffering and sorrow.

With a thousand fears 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.

The face of the vision, or the figure, is etched with countless fears, as if these fears have left permanent marks. Despite this, the tunnel is devoid of blood, indicating that no fresh violence has reached this place from the world above. Additionally, there is an absence of war sounds—no guns firing or echoing mournfully down the tunnel’s flues, which are the chimney-like openings.

‘Strange friend,’ I said, ‘here is no cause to mourn,’ / ‘None,’ said that other, ‘save the undone years, / The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,

The speaker addresses the figure as a “strange friend,” acknowledging the oddness of their meeting yet suggesting a bond. The speaker tells this friend that there is no reason to mourn here. The figure responds, agreeing but adding that there is indeed reason to mourn—the lost, unfulfilled years and the overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Any hope the speaker currently holds was once shared by this figure.

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,

The figure explains that his life, too, was once full of hope. He spent his life searching for the most elusive and untamed beauty in the world. This beauty is not found in outward appearances, such as calm eyes or neatly braided hair, but rather it is something more profound that challenges and mocks the passage of time.

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,

This beauty, when it experiences sorrow, does so with a greater depth than anything in this place (Hell). The figure reflects that his own happiness might have brought joy to many others, and his sorrow would have left an impact. However, now all of this is lost.

Which must die now. I mean the truth untold, / The pity of war, the pity war distilled.

The figure laments that these untold truths and distilled sorrows of war must now die with him. He refers to the deeper, unspoken truths about the pity and horror of war that he wished to express.

Now men will go content with what we spoiled. / Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.

The figure predicts that people will either become content with the destruction and ruin caused by the war, or they will become so filled with discontent that they will rage violently, leading to more bloodshed and death.

They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. / None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.

The figure continues, stating that people will act with the fierce and rapid aggression of a tigress. Despite this, no one will break ranks or disrupt the status quo, even as entire nations move away from true progress and development.

Courage was mine, and I had mystery; / Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:

The figure reminisces about his past, recalling that he once possessed courage and a sense of mystery. He also had wisdom and a certain level of control or mastery over his life and circumstances.

To miss the march of this retreating world / Into vain citadels that are not walled.

He reflects on how he missed witnessing the world retreating into false fortresses of security—vain citadels that offer no real protection or progress.

Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels, / I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,

The figure imagines a time when the chariot-wheels of progress would be clogged by bloodshed. At that point, he would cleanse them with water from pure, sweet wells, symbolizing a desire to restore purity and truth.

Even with truths that lie too deep for taint. / I would have poured my spirit without stint

These truths are so profound that they cannot be corrupted. The figure would have freely given his spirit to share these deep truths with the world.

But not through wounds; not on the cess of war. / Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

However, he clarifies that he would not share these truths through violence or the filth of war. He notes that men have suffered deeply, even without physical wounds, indicating the psychological and emotional toll of war.

‘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.

The figure reveals that he is the enemy the speaker killed. He recognized the speaker in the dark from the previous day when the speaker attacked him. The figure remembers the speaker’s frown as he was being killed.

I parried; but my hands were loath and cold. / Let us sleep now….

The figure recounts that he tried to defend himself but was reluctant and weak. In the end, he suggests that they rest now, indicating a desire for peace and finality, symbolizing the eternal rest of death.

Textbook solutions

Answer these questions in one or two words

1. Who is the speaker in ‘Strange Meeting’?

Answer: A dead soldier

2. When did the speaker realise that he was in hell?

Answer: By a smile

3. What does the poet mean by ‘chariot wheels’?

Answer: Wheels of progress

4. What does the speaker discover in the underworld?

Answer: Common humanity

Answer these questions in a few words each

1. What do you mean by war poetry?

Answer: Poetry about the experiences of war

2. What are the poetic devices often used by Wilfred Owen in his poems?

Answer: Imagery and metaphor

3. Why is the meeting between the two soldiers called a ‘strange meeting’?

Answer: Because it happens in the afterlife

4. What does the poet mean by ‘titanic wars’?

Answer: Great and destructive wars

5. ‘Let us sleep now’. What does sleep signify in the poem?

Answer: Peace and death

Answer these questions briefly in your own words

1. What is the significance of the title ‘Strange Meeting’?

Answer: The title ‘Strange Meeting’ signifies an unexpected encounter between two dead soldiers in the afterlife, highlighting the futility of war and the shared humanity of enemies.

2. Write a brief note on Wilfred Owen’s representation of the underworld to explore the horrors of war in ‘Strange Meeting’.

Answer: Wilfred Owen’s depiction of the underworld in ‘Strange Meeting’ serves to illustrate the grim realities and psychological trauma of war. The dark, tunnel-like setting symbolises the desolation and suffering experienced by soldiers, and the conversation between the two dead soldiers emphasises the senseless loss and shared sorrow of war.

3. ‘I parried; but my hands were loath and cold. Let us sleep now …’ What is the significance of the last two lines in ‘Strange Meeting’?

Answer: The last two lines of ‘Strange Meeting’ convey the soldier’s reluctance to fight and the cold, impersonal nature of war. ‘Let us sleep now’ suggests a longing for peace and rest, symbolising death as a release from the horrors of war.

4. How does ‘Strange Meeting’ challenge the traditional view of war as noble and heroic?

Answer: ‘Strange Meeting’ challenges the traditional view of war as noble and heroic by portraying it as a tragic and senseless conflict that causes immense suffering. The poem emphasises the shared humanity of the soldiers and the pointless destruction of war, questioning the glorification of war and highlighting its devastating consequences.

Answer these questions in detail

1. Bring out the central idea of ‘Strange Meeting’.

Answer: The central idea of ‘Strange Meeting’ is the profound futility and tragedy of war. Wilfred Owen presents a poignant dialogue between two soldiers from opposing sides who meet in the afterlife. This encounter underscores the shared humanity and mutual suffering of soldiers, regardless of their national allegiances. The poem criticises the senselessness of war, portraying it as a destructive force that obliterates the potential and hopes of young men. By illustrating the commonality of human experience, Owen conveys a powerful anti-war message that challenges the glorification of conflict and emphasises the need for peace and understanding.

2. “…Whatever hope is yours, Was my life also; I went hunting wild After the wildest beauty in the world…” How does the poet portray the hopelessness of war in ‘Strange Meeting’? Illustrate your answer in the context of the above lines.

Answer: In ‘Strange Meeting’, Wilfred Owen portrays the hopelessness of war through the reflections of the deceased soldier who recognises the futility of his aspirations. The quoted lines reveal the soldier’s pursuit of beauty and meaning in life, which war ultimately rendered impossible. The phrase “Whatever hope is yours, Was my life also” indicates that the dreams and ambitions shared by all soldiers are crushed by the brutal realities of war. The soldier’s journey for the “wildest beauty” symbolises a quest for something profound and fulfilling, yet war has left him disillusioned and regretful. Through these lines, Owen highlights the tragic irony that the search for purpose and beauty is annihilated by the senseless violence and destruction of war, leaving behind a legacy of despair and unfulfilled potential.

Extra questions and answers

1. “It seemed that out of battle I escaped Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped Through granites which titanic wars had groined.”

(i) Where does the speaker feel he has escaped from?

Answer: The speaker feels he has escaped from battle.

(ii) Describe the tunnel the speaker mentions.

Answer: The tunnel is profound, dull, and long since scooped through granites shaped by titanic wars.

(iii) What is the significance of the “granites which titanic wars had groined”?

Answer: It suggests the ancient and monumental nature of the wars that shaped the tunnel.

Missing answers are only available to registered users. Please register or login if already registered

28. Discuss the poem’s portrayal of peace and rest as the only escape from the anguish of war.

Answer: In “Strange Meeting,” peace and rest are portrayed as the only escape from the anguish of war. The poem’s final line, “Let us sleep now,” symbolizes a longing for eternal rest and freedom from the pain and trauma inflicted by war. This desire for peace is seen as a metaphor for death, suggesting that only in the afterlife can the soldiers find true relief from their suffering. The poem emphasizes the profound impact of war on the human spirit, highlighting the need for reconciliation and the futility of conflict. Owen’s portrayal of peace as the ultimate respite from war’s horrors underscores the poem’s anti-war message and the importance of seeking harmony and understanding.

Get notes of other boards, classes, and subjects

Custom Notes ServiceQuestion papers

Share with others

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Only registered users are allowed to copy.