A Strange Meeting is a poem on forgiveness. Two soldiers meet in a fictitious Hell, the first having murdered the second in combat. The poem is mostly a discourse between two warriors placed in a dream-like setting that is, in fact, Hell. Enemies in battle, the two eventually reconcile. Although they have been enemies, they now seek each other's company to find peace.
The poem begins with an invocation by one of the men asking for help in seeking absolution for his sins. Then the murder is described in detail: how it was committed, what weapons were used, where the body was found. After this introduction, the speaker tells us he is going to "tell his story" while the other man listens without comment.
He starts off by saying that he was a big shot up in Heaven because God loved him. (This is not surprising since the murderer is describing himself in the third person.) He went on to say that he had always wanted to come down to Earth and see what life was like for humans. So God sent him to Hell as a punishment for all of his sins.
In the poem, Hell is described as a place full of suffering where sinners are punished forever by being forced to watch themselves being punished in turn.
Their odd meeting serves both the poem's backdrop and the foundation for its whole topic. Owen's Unusual Meeting depicts a meeting, no doubt strange, between two soldiers from opposing camps. The poem begins by describing how and where the encounter takes place. Then it moves on to note some differences between the men that might explain their meeting. Finally, it ends with a brief but powerful image of peace and quiet following this unusual meeting.
Owen uses this scene to question conventional war practices at the time. Although King Charles I had banned private armies several years before, he still wanted his country to be represented by loyal soldiers when fighting other nations. So, when these two men arrive at their destination without any problems, they can probably travel back home safely. This conclusion makes the first part of the poem quite predictable but also allows Owen to include some very interesting details about battle practices at the time. For example, soldiers usually only got paid after being granted leave, so traveling with no intention of returning to duty was very common among British troops.
It comes right after the two men decide to become friends, so this statement seems natural after such a positive change in their relationship. However, what makes this line so interesting is that it doesn't mention either man by name.
Strange Meeting, by Robert Frost, similarly takes place in a strange realm, only this time it is not in our own world, but in the underworld, the afterlife—what the speaker of the poem labels as Hell. In essence, "Strange Meeting" is told from the perspective of a soldier who dies in combat and ends himself in Hell.
Hell is a dark place full of fire. The soldier in question had been given eternal punishment for killing children during the war. He was now stuck there with them and could do nothing to escape. However, he does have some interaction with other souls in Hell, most notably that of a woman who tries to help him find a way out. However, despite their efforts, they are ultimately unable to free him from his fate.
Frost uses language that would be familiar to those who read Greek mythology to tell this story. For example, one of the soldiers in Hell is called Oenomaus because he was known for his bow. Similarly, the woman who tries to help the soldier find a way out is called Circe. Both characters are associated with witchcraft because they can turn people into animals or make them forget what they were going to say. There are also references to Pluto, the Roman god of the dead, being involved in the conflict between the two parties. Overall, then, "Strange Meeting" is a poem that tells the story of a soldier's death in war from the point of view of someone in Hell.