as one of those wh Possibly seduced by propaganda, the speaker in "Strange Meeting" has discarded the one quality war might distil, and with it his humanity. He has failed to retain the hope of consolidating his emotions. This failure causes the spiritual death the other, whether as enemy or alter ego, as well as the presumed physical death of the narrator, though he was not killed. The two poems contrast the role of men and women in the war as soldiers and nurses. While the two soldiers have condemned themselves through their actions, whereas the nurse in "An Incident" retains a moral high-ground through her motherly care for the fallen.
"Strange Meeting" achieves aesthetic distance and universality through a descent into the unconscious where a strange meeting of external and internal man takes place. In fact the poet actually renders that descent in the poem, forcing the un-suspecting reader to make the same journey. "An Incident" on the other hand offers a view of the contrasting role played by women in the war.
The "tunnel'' has been cut by the first of all wars, the war of the Titans and the gods, and the image of sleepers in a cave is recurrent in classical and Arthurian myth. Another indication of the poem's literariness is its intricate play on sounds, especially its pararhyme. The frustrating, melancholy effect of these rhymes is enhanced by the second word in each pair being lower in pitch: `"friend/frowned,'' "killed/cold.'' "Strange Meeting'' is intensely literary, a poet's testament, cast in the traditional form of a dream-poem. The diction of 'pity' implies a distant and abstract quality to which Owen's expression gives permanence, rather than an emotion which the reader or poet themselves experience. Possibly seduced by propaganda, the narrator has discarded the one quality war might distil, and with it his humanity. He has failed to retain the hope of consolidating his emotions. This failure causes the spiritual death the other, whether as enemy or alter ego, as well as the presumed physical death of the narrator, though he was not killed. The couplet asserts that future generations will placidly accept what we have spoiled; or failing that, will once again go to war, achieving their own devastation. Owen implies, that while there is reconciliation in death, this is not the only place it can be achieved. Although we may emphasise with the need for reconciliation, we may only fully comprehend it after death. We die in this knowledge, and so it dies with us. The threat substantiated through the poem carries more significance for the survivors, as those who perished had no hope for our future, despite posthumous reconciliation. What hope is there for those who remain without the guidance of their knowledge of this pity.
How it is conveyed
While the men fighting in the wars were considered as sons fighting for their country, the nurses were regarded as the mothers nurturing the sons of their country. This concept is described in Mary H. J. Henderson’s poem “An Incident,” another poem written during World War I (Reilly 52). In the poem, She explains, “for each son of man is a son divine, / not just to the mother who calls him ‘mine’” (lines 21-22). In wartime, the nurse took care of the soldier as a mother would take care of her sick child. At a time when a man may need his mother the most, the nurse was the closest he could get to having his mother by his side. In this poem, Henderson takes care of the soldier as the Virgin Mary takes cares of Jesus, the Son of God. The idea of nurses as mothers is a popular concept in many literary works written by women during the wars, not just in poems, but also in fiction, memoirs, plays, and art.
In the same poem, Henderson also compares women to the Virgin Mary, Christ’s mother. She describes how the soldier “could not hold the spoon or cup, / and [she] fed him….[like] Mary, Mother of God,” (14-15). Henderson compares herself to the ultimate Mother Mary who is the most nurturing and perfect mother in every way. Just like Mary was given the divine responsibility by God to raise Jesus, the nurses have been given the important responsibility of taking care of the wounded soldiers. In the final stanza, Henderson compares women’s sharing of the soldiers’ pain to Mary’s sharing of Jesus’s pain on His Cross when she writes, “and still on the battlefield of pain / Christ is stretched on His Cross again; / and the Son of God in agony hangs, / womanhood striving to ease His pangs” (16-19). By choosing to compare this scene of the battlefield with the crucifixion of Jesus, the poet is also acknowledging the death, along with the pain and suffering of the soldiers. And just like Jesus’s death had a purpose, so does the soldiers’ death: they sacrifice their lives so that those alive (women and children) will have a future with freedom and peace in “the Mother Land” (24).