Get notes, line-by-line explanation, summary, questions and answers, critical analysis, word meanings, extras, and pdf of the poem Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen which is part of ISC Class 11 English (Rhapsody). However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
- Line-by-line explanation of the poem
- Glossary/word meaning
- Summary of the poem
- Critical analysis of the poem
- Themes of the poem
- Figure of speech
- About the author
- Workbook solutions/answers
- Additional questions and answers
- Additional MCQs
Line-by-line explanation of the poem
It seemed that out of battle I escaped
The speaker, who is probably a soldier, talks about getting away from the horrors of a battlefield. The word “escaped” makes you think of a desperate fight to get away from the terrible reality of war.
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
The speaker goes into a tunnel, which is a symbol for a place between life and death or a way out of the harsh reality of war. The tunnel is said to be deep and dull, which gives it a sad and gloomy feeling.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned, Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
The “sleepers” the speaker meets may be other soldiers who have died in battle. Their groans show that they were still in pain even after they died, which shows how traumatic war is. Their fast sleep in thought or death shows that they can’t respond or act, which may be a sign of how war makes people feel numb.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared With piteous recognition in fixed eyes, Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
One of the soldiers who had been killed gets up and shows signs of life. The “piteous recognition” in his eyes shows that he recognises the man as a fellow soldier and understands that they have both been through pain. His raised hands could mean that he was trying in vain to bless or forgive the speaker, which would show the irony and tragedy of war.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,— By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
The soldier’s “dead” smile shows that he knows he is going to die. The words “sullen hall” and “Hell” are used to describe the setting. These words add to the dark and gloomy atmosphere by making the place sound like a realm of the damned, which is a metaphor for war.
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.
Even though there are no obvious signs of war on the soldier’s face (like blood, guns, or moaning), his face shows a thousand fears. This shows that war doesn’t just hurt people physically; it also leaves deep psychological scars.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.” “None,” said that other, “save the undone years, The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours, Was my life also; I went hunting wild
The speaker calls the dead soldier a “strange friend” to emphasise that they had similar experiences and a strange bond that was made when they both faced death. The soldier says that he doesn’t feel sad about his death, but about the years he didn’t get to live and the feeling of hopelessness he has. This shows how war causes everyone to lose their potential and lose hope.
After the wildest beauty in the world, Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair, But mocks the steady running of the hour, And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
The dead soldier thinks about how war cut short his search for beauty in life. The beauty he was looking for wasn’t in how he looked, but in the fleeting moments of life. He had lost that beauty.
For by my glee might many men have laughed, And of my weeping something had been left, Which must die now. I mean the truth untold, The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
The soldier thinks about the happiness and sadness he’s lost with his death. He talks about the “truth untold,” which is the real meaning and sadness of war that is often hidden.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled. Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled. They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
These lines show how angry and disappointed the soldier is with war. They also say that people will keep going to war, whether they are happy with what it has destroyed or not. The word “tigress” means that war is like a predator, and the phrase “nations trek from progress” means that war is a step backward for civilization.
Courage was mine, and 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.
The soldier thinks back on his bravery and wisdom, which are now useless since he is dead. His use of the phrase “vain citadels that are not walled” may be a reference to useless defences and the false sense of safety that comes with war, showing the ultimate pointlessness and deception of war.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels, I would go up and wash them from sweet wells, Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
The soldier says that he wants to wash away the effects of war and find the pure truths that are buried deep beneath the dead bodies. This could be seen as a longing for purity and truth, which is different from the lies and destruction of war.
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.
The soldier is sad that the wounds he got in war took away his spirit instead of putting it to good use. The phrase “Men’s foreheads have bled where there were no wounds” vividly describes the psychological damage caused by war, which is just as deep and hurtful as any physical injury.
Battle: A fight between two armed forces, typically of different nations or groups.
Profound: Deep, intense; often used in a metaphorical context to denote seriousness or significance.
Tunnel: A passageway through or under something, typically underground.
Granites: A type of hard rock, used metaphorically here to signify a strong or impenetrable barrier.
Groined: An architectural term referring to the curving intersection of two vaults. Here it’s used metaphorically to describe the destructive impact of war.
Encumbered: Hindered or burdened.
Bestirred: Stirred up, provoked to action.
Piteous: Deserving or arousing feelings of pity or compassion.
Sullen: Gloomy, resentful.
Hell: In Christian belief, the place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death. Used here metaphorically to describe the brutal and torturous reality of war.
Mourn: Express sorrow for a death.
Undone: Not done or finished; left incomplete.
Spoiled: Ruined, destroyed.
Mastery: Superior skill or knowledge.
Retreating: Moving back or withdrawing.
Citadels: Fortresses, usually on high ground, protecting or dominating a city.
Taint: A trace of a bad or undesirable quality or substance.
Cess: A tax or levy. Used here metaphorically to refer to the costs of war.
Parried: Ward off an attack, especially with a countermove.
Loath: Unwilling, reluctant.
Summary of the poem
“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen is an anti-war poem which describes a strange encounter between two soldiers of opposing sides in a war.
The poem begins with the speaker, a British soldier, who feels as if he’s escaped the battle and finds himself in a deep, dark tunnel. This tunnel is symbolic of his mental state, full of darkness, fear, and trauma from the war. The tunnel seems to have been hollowed out by the weight of numerous wars that have left their deep impact.
Inside the tunnel, he comes across many sleepers who seem too deep in their sleep to be disturbed. As he explores further, one of them wakes up. The soldier who wakes up is clearly distressed, his eyes full of recognition and his hands lifted as if blessing the narrator. The narrator recognizes the soldier’s smile and realizes that they are in Hell, signifying the realization of the horror and the senselessness of war.
Despite the fear that engulfs him, the narrator finds no blood or sounds of guns in this space. It’s eerily calm, a stark contrast to the battleground. The narrator addresses the awakened soldier as a “strange friend” and tells him there is no cause for sorrow.
In response, the awakened soldier speaks about the years wasted in war, the despair, and the lost hopes. He shares that his life was once filled with the same hopes as the narrator. He used to seek beauty and joy in the world, a beauty that can’t be found in superficial appearances but in the essence of life itself. He speaks of how his joy could have made many men laugh and how his sorrow could have left a mark on the world.
His words bring to light the untold truth and the pity of war – how it has spoiled mankind’s potential for joy and contentment. He discusses the persistence of war and the unwillingness of men to break their violent routines, despite the stagnation of progress.
The dead soldier reveals his courage, his wisdom, and his capability. Yet he regrets the wasted opportunities, his inability to change the course of the destructive world, and his participation in pointless battles. He says he would have loved to cleanse the war-torn world with truths, to pour out his spirit to heal, but not through wounds or the filth of war. He highlights the pointless suffering caused by war, where men bleed without even being wounded.
In the end, the soldier reveals that he is the enemy the narrator killed. Despite this, he addresses the narrator as a friend, showing the futility of their enmity. He reflects on how the narrator had killed him the previous day. Although he had tried to defend himself, his hands were unwilling and cold. He suggests they should now rest, implying the desire for an end to the conflict and an eternal peace.
The poem ends on a sober note, highlighting the futility and horror of war and underscoring the shared humanity that binds us all, even those labeled as ‘enemies’. The ‘strange meeting’ serves as a haunting reminder of the common dreams, hopes, and human potential that are wasted in the act of war.
Critical analysis of the poem
“Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen is a thought-provoking poem that explores the brutalities of war and the shared humanity between soldiers, even those on opposite sides. The poem is deeply reflective and presents a critique of war, which was a recurring theme in Owen’s works as he served as a soldier in World War I.
The title itself, “Strange Meeting,” indicates a bizarre encounter, setting the stage for the unexpected interaction that occurs in the poem. The strangeness of this meeting is deepened by the setting – a dim, dismal tunnel, a metaphorical representation of the underworld, or hell.
The speaker in the poem appears to be a soldier who, after escaping the horrors of a battle, finds himself in this tunnel filled with groaning sleepers – likely representing soldiers who have died in the war. He awakens one, and they begin a conversation. The use of dialogue in this poem creates a more personal connection and adds depth to the emotions expressed.
The soldier who awakens reveals that he is the enemy the speaker killed, but he bears no hostility. Instead, he speaks with a mournful understanding. The recognition between the two soldiers, the intimate conversation they share, challenges the idea of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ often seen in war narratives. Owen suggests that these divisions are superficial, pointing to the shared humanity that transcends national or political boundaries.
The dead soldier’s reflections about his life before war and the hopelessness of the current situation serves as a critique of the senseless violence and destruction caused by war. He speaks of wasted years and lost opportunities for joy and beauty. His words “the pity of war, the pity war distilled” underscore the tragedy and the deep sorrow associated with war, reminding us that those involved are human beings with emotions, dreams, and potentials that are cruelly cut short.
In the end, the enemy soldier invites the speaker to “sleep,” suggesting a longing for peace and an end to the conflict. This poignant end adds a layer of sadness to the poem, emphasizing the desire for an end to suffering.
The poem is a critique of war, portraying it not as a heroic or glorious endeavour but as a destructive force that causes immense suffering and wastes human potential. By humanizing the so-called ‘enemy,’ Owen forces readers to challenge their perceptions about war and its supposed ‘enemies.’ The raw emotion and stark reality presented in the poem offer a powerful anti-war sentiment. The poem urges us to see past the divisions that lead to war and to recognize and value our shared humanity.
Themes of the poem
Horrors of War: This is a central theme of the poem. Owen portrays war not as glorious or heroic but as a brutal and destructive event. He uses vivid imagery and metaphor to reveal the brutal realities of war. The fact that the soldiers meet in a place described as “Hell” reinforces the notion that war is an unimaginably terrible experience.
Shared Humanity: Owen challenges the idea of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ often seen in war narratives. Despite being enemies on the battlefield, the two soldiers share a moment of understanding and empathy in the poem. This theme suggests that all soldiers – regardless of the side they fight on – share a common human experience.
Loss and Regret: This theme is apparent in the lament of the dead soldier who mourns the waste of life and potential caused by the war. The phrase “undone years” suggests opportunities and experiences that were lost due to the war. It expresses regret over lives lost and potential unfulfilled because of the conflict.
Critique of War: Owen critiques the concept of war itself. The dead soldier’s words, “the pity of war, the pity war distilled,” imply that war is nothing but a distillation of pity and sadness. It’s a stark critique of the human capacity to inflict harm on each other.
Desire for Peace: The final lines of the poem suggest a longing for peace. The dead soldier invites the speaker to “sleep,” symbolizing an end to suffering and conflict. This theme underscores the longing for an end to the violence and horrors of war.
Truth and Reality: The poem also talks about the unspoken truths of war. The dead soldier expresses that the real tragedies and sorrows of war are often left untold. This theme underscores the importance of acknowledging and confronting the harsh realities of war.
Figure of speech
Metaphor: The poem starts with the speaker metaphorically escaping from the battle down a tunnel, which represents a journey to the underworld or Hell. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem.
Personification: In the lines “Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned, / Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred,” the ‘sleepers’ (dead bodies) are given human qualities, groaning and being too fast in thought. This emphasizes the horror of war, and the human toll it takes.
Simile: The line “They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress” uses a simile to compare men’s actions in war to the speed and ferocity of a tigress. This portrays the violent nature of war and the animalistic behavior it can bring out in humans.
Paradox: The line “I am the enemy you killed, my friend” is a paradox, combining contradictory concepts. This highlights the absurdity of war where a person could kill another who might have been a friend in a different circumstance.
Hyperbole: The speaker’s desire to cleanse the world’s war-tainted reality with “truths that lie too deep for taint” is a form of exaggeration or hyperbole. This signifies the extent of the devastation caused by war, which has permeated even the deepest truths.
Alliteration: In the line “Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were,” the repetition of the ‘w’ sound in ‘where’ and ‘wounds’ and ‘were’ provides emphasis on the unseen mental and emotional injuries caused by war.
Synecdoche: In the line “Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels”, the term “chariot-wheels” represents the whole war machinery. This figure of speech indicates how the violence and bloodshed have impacted every aspect of the war.
About the author
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was an English poet and soldier. He was brought up with strong religious beliefs, largely because of his close relationship with his mom. This bond with her was a constant throughout his life.
Many people consider Owen as the greatest poet of the First World War because of his powerful poems about the terrible conditions in the trenches and the horrors of gas warfare. He started writing poetry when he was just ten years old, during a vacation in Broxton by the Hill, Cheshire.
Owen’s early poetry was influenced by the works of William Butler Yeats, as well as Romantic poets like Keats and Shelley. Later, his good friend and fellow poet, Siegfried Sassoon, deeply impacted his style of writing. In fact, Owen’s most popular poems, “Dulce et Decorum est” and “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, were directly influenced by Sassoon. Nowadays, Owen’s poetry is even more admired than Sassoon’s.
Unlike earlier war poets, such as Rupert Brooke, who wrote patriotically about war, Owen’s war poems revealed the harsh reality of war. Some of his best-known poems include “Dulce et Decorum est”, “Insensibility”, “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, “Futility”, “Spring Offensive” and “Strange Meeting”. The last one, “Strange Meeting”, is about the horrors of World War I and was written in 1918. It tells the story of a soldier who goes to the underworld to escape the battlefield, only to meet the enemy soldier he killed the day before. It is considered one of Owen’s most chilling and intricate war poems.
Sadly, Owen was killed in action just a week before the end of the war, on November 4, 1918. He was only 25 years old. Many of his works were published after his death.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
(i) Why is the meeting referred to in the poem is strange?
Answer: (c) because it seems unreal to the speaker
(ii) What does the poet want to convey?
Answer: (c) the futility of war
(iii) What kind of atmosphere in the poem is created
Answer: (b) eerie
(iv) What do you think about what the speaker sees in the tunnel?
Answer: (b) what he sees is a kind of vision or nightmare
(v) What do you think of the sleepers in the tunnel?
Answer: (a) they are dead soldiers
(vi) What has the dead ‘enemy’ solider has understood?
Answer: (a) that war ideals are fake
(vii) In what state of mind was the dead German soldier?
Answer: (b) mournful and repenting
(viii) Why did the German soldier get killed easily?
Answer: (d) because his hands were unwilling to kill anyone
(ix) The words ‘my friend’ spoken by the dead soldier reveals that he:
Answer: (d) had no feeling of hatred even for his killer
(x) The German soldier had recognized his killer from:
Answer: (b) his frown
(i) The poem, Strange Meeting, is an anti-war poem because ______________
Answer: it showcases the futility and senseless destruction caused by war, vividly depicting the horrors experienced by soldiers, the wastage of life, and the commonality of suffering among all men, regardless of which side they are on.
(ii) The strange meeting takes place in a dream or vision because ______________
Answer: the speaker seems to have escaped a battle and finds himself in a profoundly dull and surreal tunnel, encountering dead soldiers, one of whom he converses with – these experiences are unrealistic and surreal, suggesting a dreamlike or visionary state.
(iii) The smile of the strange soldier is ‘dead’ because ______________
Answer: the soldier is physically dead, killed in the war. His smile reflects not joy or life but the harsh reality of their existence in Hell.
(iv) The dead soldier expresses his hopelessness in the poem because ______________
Answer: he is remorseful about the waste of life caused by war, the loss of future years, and the disregard for the true values of life.
(v) The dead soldier wanted to be alive again because ______________
Answer: he laments the loss of his unfulfilled life and experiences – the untold truths, the lost joys, the unrealized beauty, and the ceaseless potential that he could have had, which have been abruptly taken away due to the war.
(vi) The dead soldier says that he could not save himself because ______________
Answer: his hands were “loath and cold” when he parried, implying that he was either too exhausted, reluctant to kill, or had lost the will to fight.
(vii) The meeting is shown to take place in Hell because ______________
Answer: it symbolizes the grim reality of war. The tunnel, the dead soldiers, the regret and sadness, and the conversation with the dead – all these elements create a Hell-like, post-battle scenario that is deeply disturbing and grim.
(vii) The place where the speaker reaches through the dull tunnel is gloomy because ______________
Answer: it represents the aftermath of a war zone, filled with dead soldiers, despair, and regret.
(ix) The dead soldier calls his killer ‘my friend’ because ______________
Answer: despite being enemies in the war, they are alike in their humanity and shared experiences of suffering.
(x) The poem is a strong plea for peace and brotherhood because ______________
Answer: it powerfully illustrates the devastation of war and underscores the shared humanity between supposed enemies.
Short answer questions
(i) What did the British soldier see in the dark tunnel?
Answer: In the dark tunnel, the British soldier saw encumbered sleepers who seemed to be dead. One of these sleepers sprang up and stared back at him with piteous recognition in his eyes. This soldier, who the speaker recognized by his smile to be in Hell, engaged the speaker in conversation.
(ii) What did the dead soldier tell about his unfulfilled desires?
Answer: The dead soldier lamented his undone years and the hopelessness that now defines his existence. He told of his past life when he pursued the wild beauty in the world, a beauty that is not calm or easily defined. He also spoke of his desire to share truths that lie too deep for taint and how he wished to pour his spirit out, not through the wounds of war but into life.
(iii) On what note did the poem end? What message does the poet want to convey?
Answer: The poem ends on a somber note with the words “Let us sleep now…” spoken by the dead soldier. The message that the poet wants to convey is the tragedy and futility of war, the shared humanity among men on both sides, and the needless loss of life that war brings.
(iv) In what way is the eerie atmosphere in the tunnel thematically appropriate?
Answer: The eerie atmosphere in the tunnel mirrors the dark and distressing theme of war and death. This gloomy setting serves to underscore the horror of war, the wastage of life, and the shared suffering experienced by soldiers, regardless of which side they are on. The tunnel, a long, dark, and confined space, filled with the dead, is thematically aligned with the horror of war and the oppressive sense of confinement and suffering that war creates.
Long answer questions
(i) Discuss ‘The Strange Meeting’ as an anti-war poem with close reference to the text.
Answer: “The Strange Meeting” by Wilfred Owen is an exemplary piece of anti-war literature. It delves deep into the harsh realities of war, underscoring the profound physical and psychological traumas endured by soldiers. Owen, through his poignant narrative, highlights the futile nature of war and its destructive consequences.
The poem opens with the speaker, a soldier, escaping the battlefield through a ‘profound dull tunnel’, symbolizing the transition from the material to the spiritual world, indicative of the speaker’s likely demise in battle. This transition also signifies a departure from the collective, organized violence of the war front towards the individual repercussions of the same.
In the tunnel, the speaker encounters the souls of dead soldiers, one of whom rises and engages with him. This ‘strange meeting’ reveals the other side of war, one that is often glossed over – the collective loss, the unfulfilled dreams, the despair. The soldier’s ‘dead smile’ is an emblem of the irreversible damage of war.
The dead soldier’s monologue, where he speaks of ‘the undone years’ and ‘the hopelessness’ reflects the brutal truncation of life caused by war. The soldier yearned for a life beyond the battlefield, a life filled with the pursuit of ‘the wildest beauty’, a life that is now lost. His words underscore the pity and senseless sacrifice of war, a sentiment that resonates throughout the poem.
The phrase ‘Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were’ is a powerful illustration of the psychological trauma inflicted by war, a wound as real and devastating as any physical injury.
(ii) Describe the strange meeting. Where does it actually take place?
Answer: The ‘strange meeting’ of the poem’s title takes place in a profound, dull tunnel, which seems to be a metaphor for the liminal space between life and death or a form of purgatory or Hell. The soldier encounters the spirits of the dead, one of whom engages him in a dialogue. This meeting is ‘strange’ not only due to its supernatural setting but also because of its unlikelihood in the natural world. The conversation happens between a living soldier and a soldier he had killed, a meeting that would not be possible in the earthly realm.
(iii) What message does the poet want to convey?
Answer: Wilfred Owen’s “Strange Meeting” is a potent anti-war piece that seeks to convey the harsh realities and profound tragedies of war. The poem underscores the futility and senselessness of war, highlighting the shared humanity amongst soldiers on opposing sides. Owen, through the haunting dialogue between the two soldiers, emphasizes that all men, irrespective of the sides they fight for, share the same hopes, fears, and desires. The dead soldier’s lament for his ‘undone years’ and his lost dreams serve as a powerful reminder of the lives cut short by war.
Moreover, the poem draws attention to the psychological trauma inflicted by war, asserting that it leaves scars not just on the body but also on the mind. The concluding line, “Let us sleep now,” is a plea for peace and rest, not just from physical warfare, but also from the mental torment it brings.
Additional questions and answers
1. How does the speaker describe the hall they stand in?
Answer: The speaker describes the hall they stand in as a ‘sullen’ place, indicating a gloomy, dismal, or melancholy atmosphere.
2. What kind of ‘smile’ identifies their location as Hell?
Answer: The kind of ‘smile’ that identifies their location as Hell is described as a ‘dead’ smile. This phrase suggests an unnatural or eerie lack of life or warmth, symbolizing the horror and despair of Hell.
3. What animal is referenced to describe the potential future actions of men?
Answer: The animal referenced to describe the potential future actions of men is a ‘tigress.’ The use of this animal might symbolize ferocity, swiftness, and potential for violence.
4. What does the speaker mean by the “undone years”?
Answer: When the speaker mentions the “undone years,” it refers to the years lost due to war, the years that could have been spent living rather than fighting and dying. It represents the lost potential and wasted time caused by war.
5. How is the concept of time portrayed in the poem?
Answer: The concept of time in this poem is portrayed as relentless and indifferent. It “mocks the steady running of the hour,” suggesting that time moves forward regardless of human suffering or joy. It can also be seen as wasted in the context of war and the “undone years.”
6. Why does the speaker use the phrase “cess of war”?
Answer: The phrase “cess of war” is used to convey the filthiness and waste of war. The word “cess” often refers to a tax or levy, but it can also mean a swamp or a cesspool. Here, Owen is likely using it to imply that war is a cesspool, a disgusting and wasteful place filled with death and destruction.
7. How does Owen present the relationship between the speaker and the enemy soldier?
Answer: Owen presents the relationship between the speaker and the enemy soldier as complicated but deeply human. Despite being enemies in life, their encounter in the afterlife is marked by recognition and empathy. They share a common humanity, having both been victims of the same war. This is indicated in the lines “I am the enemy you killed, my friend” and “I knew you in this dark.”
8. What is the effect of the phrase “Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were”?
Answer: The phrase “Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were” conveys the psychological trauma inflicted by war. Although there may be no physical wounds, the mental and emotional suffering is so intense it’s as if they’ve been physically injured. It speaks to the invisible scars carried by those who have experienced the horrors of war.
9. What is the significance of the poem being set in ‘Hell’?
Answer: The setting of the poem in ‘Hell’ signifies the harsh and horrifying reality of war. It underscores the pain, suffering, and moral degradation associated with war, equating the battlefield with Hell itself. It’s a potent metaphor for the destructive and inhuman nature of war.
10. How does Owen use imagery to convey the horrors of war in “Strange Meeting”?
Answer: Owen uses vivid and haunting imagery to convey the horrors of war in “Strange Meeting”. From the opening lines, he describes escaping battle down a “profound dull tunnel”, suggestive of a grave or a descent into the underworld. The imagery of groaning sleepers, a sullen hall, and a ‘dead’ smile evokes a sense of death, suffering, and despair. The descriptions of the aftermath of war, such as blood clogging chariot-wheels and men going “content with what we spoiled”, paint a grim picture of the brutality and futility of war.
11. Discuss the speaker’s attitude toward war as shown in the poem.
Answer: The speaker’s attitude toward war in “Strange Meeting” is highly negative and critical. War is depicted as a senseless, destructive, and dehumanizing force that causes immeasurable suffering and loss. It’s described as a “cess”, a repugnant and wasteful event. The speaker laments the loss of life and potential, remarking upon the “undone years” and the wasted courage, mystery, and wisdom of the soldiers.
12. How does Owen depict the concept of lost time and opportunities in the poem?
Answer: Owen depicts the concept of lost time and opportunities through the term “undone years.” This phrase implies a sense of unfulfilled potential, of life cut short by the ravages of war. The speaker also talks about the pursuit of the “wildest beauty in the world,” which can be interpreted as the ambitions, dreams, and possibilities that were forsaken due to the war.
13. How does Owen utilize irony in the context of the war situation in the poem?
Answer: Owen utilizes irony in the context of the war situation in the poem by using phrases like “Strange friend,” which is an oxymoron, to show the contradiction inherent in war, where one’s fellow human becomes an enemy to be killed. The ultimate irony is in the lines “I am the enemy you killed, my friend,” where the speaker recognizes that both of them are victims of the same war, despite being on opposing sides.
14. How does Owen explore the theme of futility and disillusionment in war?
Answer: The theme of futility and disillusionment in war is explored through the speaker’s reflections on the senselessness and waste of war. Phrases like “the pity of war, the pity war distilled” express a profound sense of waste and regret. The speaker suggests that men will continue to engage in war, regardless of the pain and destruction it causes, highlighting the futility of such actions. Moreover, the phrase “None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress” points to the disillusionment with the seeming inability of humanity to learn from its mistakes.
15. Analyze how Owen uses the concept of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ in this poem.
Answer: In “Strange Meeting,” Owen plays with the concepts of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ to highlight the absurdity and tragedy of war. Despite being labeled as enemies in life due to the sides they fought on, the speaker and the soldier he killed recognize a shared humanity in death. They are both victims of the same destructive force. The use of the term “friend” underscores their common experience and the inherent bond they share as human beings, thus blurring the line between friend and enemy.
16. What is Owen’s commentary on the societal attitudes towards war, based on your reading of the poem?
Answer: Owen’s commentary on societal attitudes towards war, based on “Strange Meeting,” is quite critical. He appears to lament the acceptance and glorification of war despite its destructive consequences. Phrases like “men will go content with what we spoiled” suggest a society that is complacent with the losses and suffering inflicted by war. He also critiques the willingness of men to continue fighting (“None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress”), indicating an implicit societal endorsement of war, despite its devastation.
17. In what ways does Owen challenge the traditional ideals of heroism and valor in war through this poem?
Answer: Owen challenges the traditional ideals of heroism and valor in war by depicting its brutal reality. He portrays war not as a noble venture, but a tragic, pointless endeavor that results in enormous loss. The speaker laments the “undone years,” wasted potential, and pointless deaths. The line “Courage was mine, and I had mystery; Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery” can be read as a critique of the idea that bravery, mystery, and mastery are worth the ultimate price of life. In this way, he dismantles the romantic notions of war heroism.
18. How might the poem’s setting in ‘Hell’ serve as a critique of war?
Answer: The poem’s setting in ‘Hell’ serves as a powerful critique of war. By situating the encounter between the speaker and the enemy soldier in Hell, Owen equates war with a form of damnation, a destructive force that is inherently evil. The grim and hopeless atmosphere of Hell also underscores the suffering and devastation caused by war. It represents the ultimate destination of a path chosen by a society that glorifies war, suggesting that war leads to nothing but destruction and despair.
19. How might the enemy soldier feel, according to the poem, upon meeting the speaker in the afterlife?
Answer: The enemy soldier in the poem seems to express a sense of sad recognition and resignation upon meeting the speaker in the afterlife. He refers to the speaker as a “strange friend” and shares his own experiences, regrets, and lost hopes. There is no apparent resentment or anger, but instead a shared sense of grief for their wasted lives and potential. His final words, “Let us sleep now,” seem to suggest a weary acceptance of their shared fate.
20. How would you feel if you were in the place of the speaker, confronted with an enemy you killed in the afterlife, as depicted in the poem?
Answer: This is a subjective question and the response could vary based on personal viewpoints. However, one might feel a mix of guilt, remorse, and shock if confronted with an enemy killed in the afterlife, as depicted in the poem. It would likely bring to the forefront the reality of the shared humanity that was overlooked or obscured in the context of war. The realization that the ‘enemy’ was as much a victim of the circumstances as oneself could lead to profound introspection and regret.
1. What does the speaker first notice about the ‘strange friend’ he encounters?
A. His bright smile B. His furious expression C. His piteous recognition in fixed eyes D. His joyous laughter
Answer: C. His piteous recognition in fixed eyes
2. Where does the speaker realize he is, based on the ‘strange friend’s’ dead smile?
A. In a dream B. On a battlefield C. In Hell D. In a hospital
Answer: C. In Hell
3. What does the ‘strange friend’ refer to when he mentions “the undone years”?
A. The years lost due to war B. The years before the war C. The years they will live after the war D. The years of training for the war
Answer: A. The years lost due to war
4. How does the ‘strange friend’ describe the beauty he pursued in the world?
A. As calm and serene B. As wild and elusive C. As plain and simple D. As harsh and cold
Answer: B. As wild and elusive
5. What is suggested by the phrase “Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were”?
A. Physical injuries in the war B. Internal trauma and psychological scars of war C. Honourable scars of battle D. Accidental injuries
Answer: B. Internal trauma and psychological scars of war
6. Who is the ‘strange friend’ revealed to be?
A. The speaker’s brother B. A fellow soldier from the same side C. The enemy the speaker killed D. A figment of the speaker’s imagination
Answer: C. The enemy the speaker killed
7. What is the ‘strange friend’s’ reaction to meeting the speaker in the afterlife?
A. He is furious and vengeful B. He is terrified and panicky C. He is resigned and weary D. He is ecstatic and relieved
Answer: C. He is resigned and weary
8. How does Owen portray the societal attitudes towards war in the poem?
A. He applauds the heroism and bravery B. He criticizes its glorification and acceptance C. He remains neutral and unbiased D. He supports the cause of war
Answer: B. He criticizes its glorification and acceptance
9. What does Owen suggest about the traditional ideals of heroism and valor in war?
A. He reinforces the value of these ideals B. He dismisses these as unnecessary in the face of war C. He promotes these as the only way to survive in war D. He challenges these by revealing the grim realities of war
Answer: D. He challenges these by revealing the grim realities of war
10. How does Owen use the setting of ‘Hell’ in the poem?
A. As a symbol of the afterlife B. As a critique of war C. As a representation of the battlefield D. As a comforting place for the dead
Answer: B. As a critique of war
11. What does the ‘strange friend’ mean when he says “Let us sleep now”?
A. He wants to rest after a long conversation B. He is expressing his desire to escape the realities of war C. He is suggesting that they’re in a dream D. He is conveying a sense of resignation and shared fate in death
Answer: D. He is conveying a sense of resignation and shared fate in death
12. What is the ‘strange friend’s’ commentary on the men who will continue the war?
A. They will be victorious and glorious B. They will break ranks and rebel C. They will be content with the destruction or discontent and cause more bloodshed D. They will abandon the war and seek peace
Answer: C. They will be content with the destruction or discontent and cause more bloodshed
13. Which of the following themes does Owen explore in the poem?
A. The beauty and glory of war B. The heroism and valor in war C. The futility and disillusionment in war D. The strategic and tactical aspects of war
Answer: C. The futility and disillusionment in war
14. What does the phrase “Courage was mine, and I had mystery; Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery” imply?
A. The speaker’s pride in his achievements in war B. The speaker’s remorse over his actions in war C. The speaker’s disillusionment with the false ideals of war D. The speaker’s satisfaction with his understanding of war
Answer: C. The speaker’s disillusionment with the false ideals of war
15. What is suggested by the line “I would have poured my spirit without stint But not through wounds; not on the cess of war”?
A. The speaker’s eagerness to fight in the war B. The speaker’s willingness to sacrifice his life for a better cause, not war C. The speaker’s disdain for those who don’t fight in the war D. The speaker’s satisfaction in causing harm to the enemy
Answer: B. The speaker’s willingness to sacrifice his life for a better cause, not war
16. What is implied by the line “None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress”?
A. The nations will continue to progress despite the war B. The soldiers will stay in formation even in the face of danger C. The soldiers will blindly follow orders, even as the war leads to regression D. The nations will stick to their decisions, no matter the cost
Answer: C. The soldiers will blindly follow orders, even as the war leads to regression
17. How is the concept of lost time and opportunities depicted in the poem?
A. Through the imagery of a ticking clock B. Through the reference to the ‘undone years’ and wasted potential C. Through the depiction of a bustling city D. Through the comparison of war to a game
Answer: B. Through the reference to the ‘undone years’ and wasted potential
18. How does Owen utilize irony in the poem?
A. By showing the ‘strange friend’ laughing in Hell B. By portraying the speaker as a hero C. By revealing that the ‘strange friend’ is the enemy the speaker killed D. By suggesting that war is a joyous occasion
Answer: C. By revealing that the ‘strange friend’ is the enemy the speaker killed
19. How does the poem illustrate the shared humanity of the speaker and the ‘strange friend’?
A. Through their shared laughter and joy B. Through their mutual understanding and shared regrets C. Through their shared desire to return to the battlefield D. Through their agreement on the glory of war
Answer: B. Through their mutual understanding and shared regrets
20. What is the overall tone of the poem?
A. Joyful and triumphant B. Sad and regretful C. Fearful and anxious D. Bitter and resentful
Answer: B. Sad and regretful
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