The expression ‘Strange Meeting means an exceptional meeting rather than an unexpected meeting between two persons. ln Owen’s poem Strange Meeting, this meeting is between two persons. The meeting, of course, is not at all normal one between two acquaintances. This is rather an unexpected meeting between two persons, of course, soldiers. But the soldiers are dead, belong to the opposite camps, and one of them is the killer of the other
Again, the place of the meeting is not normal, too. This is also a strange-the abode of the dead. There the two soldiers, already dead, suddenly meet. Their strange meeting forms the background of the poem and the basis of the whole theme.
Owen’s Strange Meeting presents a meeting, no doubt a strange one, between two soldiers, belonging to two opposite camps. The poem relates, at the very beginning, how the meeting occurs and wherein. The speaker (the soldier-poet) seems to have escaped from the battlefield and finds himself in a ‘profound dull tunnel’, ‘long scooped’ by ‘titanic wars’. A good many sleepers lie motionless and some groan. As he probes them, one springs up, stares at him ‘with piteous recognition’ and raises his hand to bless him and smiles. This smile makes the soldier-poet realize that this is hell. Thus the meeting takes place in a strange spot-in hell. Here the soldiers talk. One of them is an English soldier (the poet himself) and the other, a German, although the poet nowhere mentioned their identities.
It is, however, through the dialogue of thee two soldiers that the theme of the poem is expressed. Of course, in this dialogue, the prominence of the German soldier is quite patent. Nevertheless, this dialogue well serves to give out what Owen seeks to contend here on the bitter business of war. His points of contention are quite distinct.
First, war causes the untimely death of a good many young soldiers and thereby puts to an abrupt end their joy and hope, their dreams and desires.
Second, war turns out humanity in man and makes a soldier fierce and ferocious like a tigress and pushes human life and
civilization to the verge of destruction.
Third, the retreating march of human civilization, under the dreadful impact of war, can be stopped and the wounds of war,
healed, through the message of peace.
Fourth, man’s brutal instinct, bred by war, has the just restraint by the wise realization of the truth of life, propagated through the voice of peace. Though the English soldier killed his enemy, the German soldier, fiercely, the latter did not feel inclined to retaliate, for he had realized the truth untold (of war)-
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
The theme of the poem has a moral message to cleanse and heal the war maniac world and restore it to sanity and fraternity
through the voice of peace. This is well brought out through the dialogue of the two soldiers, meeting strangely in a strange place, and justifies the title Strange Meeting.