In writing his poem Strange Meeting, Wilfred Owen uses revision as a tool to both clarify his ideas and re-evaluate one of the central figures in the poem. By examining a reproduction of Owen’s original text and comparing it to the final, published copy, we are able to retrace his steps and, hopefully, gain a further understanding of his thought process and motivations concerning this particular poem. From these examinations, it is evident that Owen spent a large portion of the revision process attempting to alter the character of the “encumbered sleeper”, whom the narrator encounters in hell. These alterations could be viewed as an attempt by Owen to make this “vision” more ambiguous, vague, and otherworldly, and therefore to alter his readers’ perception of this character, the narrator, and the poem itself.
The sheer frequency of revisions concerning the appearance and characteristics of the ghostly figure are staggering when compared to number of revisions made elsewhere in the poem. Perhaps the first thing one notices while examining Owen’s revisions is the long stretch during the figure’s speech in which there are very few marks of revision by the author. In contrast, the sections in which the figure is described, or in which he describes himself, are heavily revised. It appears, then, Owen’s primary difficulty with the first draft of his poem was not with the content of what the ghostly speaker said, but with how the character was portrayed.
Owen pays strict attention during revision to every mention of this ghostly figure. There are at least six changes made to the text concerning the figure’s description, including two changes dedicated sol…
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…hat absurd; how can enemies be friends, and why should they fight and kill one another?
In order to bring about these changes in perception, Wilfred Owen focused the majority of his revisions on the character of the ghostly figure found in hell. By making this figure seem more abstract, vague, and otherworldly, Owen alters the significance of his poem and its statements and assumptions about war and battle from draft to draft. By making use of a few seemingly inconsequential revisions, he is able to use the re-evaluation of one character to affect the readers’ perceptions of both the other main character in the poem, and the poem as a whole.
Owen, Wilfred. “Strange Meeting.” The Norton Anthology of English
Literature The Twentieth Century Volume 2C Seventh Edition. Ed. M.H. Abrahms. New York, N.Y. W.W. Norton
Do not go gentle into that Good Night and for Eleanor Boylan talking with God
Pain and Sorrow in Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that Good Night” and Sexton’s “for Eleanor Boylan talking with God”
The end our road that is life, is death and the second we begin to live, we begin to die. A rendition of death and the loss of a loved one is expressed in two different lights in Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that Good Night” and Anne Sexton’s “for Eleanor Boylan talking with God”. Both express the fear and vulnerability of losing someone you thought should live forever Thomas’ message is an imperative one a dark and tangible energy whereas Sexton’s tone is more passive and quiet and more driven by sorrow than anger. But as there is an underlying sense of sorrow in Thomas’ villanelle, there is also a sense of quiet anger.
In “For Eleanor Boylan Talking With God”, Sexton expresses the pain of losing a loved one. There is a surreal quality to the poem, Sexton seems to write as she thinks with a thought inciting a memory; she communicates her feelings in a very literal concrete way but the poem is still very abstract because there is so little linking these images, adding on to the feeling that you are looking into Sexton’s very mind and heart. She talks about Eleanor, a friend who is more beautiful than her mother; this intimate compliment can be interpreted as more dear than even her mother. An aspect of Eleanor that Sexton respects is her closeness with God, there is a child-like trust depicted when the author writes about Eleanor in the kitchen “motioning to God”. Possibly because Eleanor is wearing a lemon-colored sundress, the reader imagines her with a smile and she feels the acceptance at her own death that Sexton cannot find. Eleanor has more faith than the author in God and who has maintained this faith even when she is dying.
Sexton wrote that God “had a face when she was six and a half” meaning he was a tangible figure. The six-year-old Sexton had a familiarity with God, she knew what he looked like; he was her friend, as is the feeling in most children about God. But this image of god has become a huge jellyfish that covers the sky. There is no comfort in a slimy jellyfish and Sexton does not find any comfort in God.