World War I ended officially at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918. To celebrate the armistice, the boat's captain encouraged all the officers for drinks in his cottage, but Owen, then 21 years old, was unable to enter into the happy mood. A feeling of apprehension gripped him had his brother, Wilfred, survived the war? A fit of the deepest melancholy settled on him. Before long the Astraea left Table Bay for the shore of Cameroons. There, at anchor off Victoria, Owen fell ill with malaria and, in a weakened and still depressed state, had "an extraordinary and inexplicable experience," which he later described:
I had gone down to my cottage thinking to write some letters. I felt a shock run through me with dreadful force and with it I could feel the blood draining away from my face. I didn't rush towards him and walked jerkily into the cabin--all my limbs stiff and slow to respond. I didn't sit down but looking at him I spoke softly: "Wilfred, how did you get here?" He didn't rise, and I saw he was involuntarily immobile, but his eyes that had never left mine were alive with the familiar look of trying to make me understand; when I talked his whole face broke into his sweetest and most endearing dark grin. I felt no fear -- I had not when I drew my door curtain and watched him there; merely exquisite psychological pleasure at so beholding him. All I was conscious of was a sensation of shock and profound astonishment that he should be here in my cabin. I talked again: "Wilfred dear, how can you be here, it is just not possible..."
But still he did not speak but only smiled his most gentle smile. This not speaking didn't today as it had done at first seem strange or even unnatural; it wasn't only in some inexplicable way perfectly natural but radiated a quality which made his presence with me undeniably right and in no way out of the ordinary. I loved having him I could not and did not need to attempt to comprehend how he'd got there. I was content to take him, that he had been here with me was sufficient. I couldn't question anything, the meeting in itself was strangely and completely perfect. He was in uniform and I remember thinking just how out of place the khaki appeared among the cottage furnishings. With this idea I must have turned my eyes away from him; when I looked back at my cottage chair was empty...
Here is Brett Fancy's interpretation of Wilfred Owens poem 'Strange Meeting' as a soldier's last vision upon the battlefield.
I felt the blood run slowly back to my head and looseness into my limbs and with such an overpowering sense of emptiness and absolute loss.... I wondered if I was dreaming but looking down I saw that I was still standing.
Suddenly I felt terribly tired and moving to my bunk I put down; immediately I went to a deep oblivious sleep. When I woke up I knew with complete certainty that Wilfred was dead. He is perhaps best remembered for his poem "Strange Meeting," where he envisioned an encounter with the spirits of those who had died in the war.
The Shadow on the wall
Grows larger, clearer.
On dark night as I lie abed,
Reading and musing of the past,
Thinking of what the old man said ----
''You are not wholly real, my boy.
Part of you came from 'way Out There'', ----
I call him wrong! I've lived and read
And dound my body and my hair
Resembles that of other men.
Sometimes the eerie shadow shifts;
The light behind me casts a form
Most strange. It weaves and oddly lifts
And scares me. It melts and flows
From light purple to deep red wine.
I Shudder as it slowly drifts
And bares the wall. What shape entwine
And mold the restless figure there?
The shadow in my mind
Grow larger, clearer . . . .
By the pervading dawn I knew the long night past,
Yet dared not prove in truth the dream's deception fled
Back to the vaults of memory; I had dreamed you dead,
Had almost seen it, erewhile, in the sky overcast,
The sickly shadows swallowed by mist at the last,
The moribund evening and the clouds bleeding red.
The night wind snatched away the purple blooms that bled
Peace on my eyelids, and my bare eyes stared aghast
Into the pearl of a place, painful world of day
Where daylight's living colours all had leached away
Into the weaveless fabric of night's sombre shade;
And your eyes were dull; unstrirring, your lips were grey;
Then the cold rain fell hard like a sharp-edged blade
Upon my bent neck as I knelt alone and praved.
Joel Lane (R.I.P. 1963 – 2013)
He was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, critic and anthology editor. He received the World Fantasy Award in 2013 and the British Fantasy Award twice.
HERE'S THE LINK;
YOU MIGHT BE BUY HIS BOOKS ON THE INTERNET
From Blue to Black (2000)
The Blue Mask (2003)
The Witnesses Are Gone (2009)
Single author short story collections
The Earth Wire and Other Stories (1994)
The Lost District and Other Stories (2006)
The Terrible Changes (2009)
Do Not Pass Go (booklet, 2011)
Where Furnaces Burn (2012)
The Edge of the Screen (1998)
Trouble in the Heartland (2004)
The Autumn Myth (2010)
Instinct (pamphlet, 2012)
Birmingham Noir: Urban Tales of Crime and Suspense (2002, co-edited with Steve Bishop)
Beneath the Ground (2003)
Never Again (2010, co-edited with Allyson Bird)