The poems from his fertile period include, notably, "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Dulce et Decorum est", "Strange Meeting", "Disabled", and "Futility". The poems' major themes include the surreal, irrational nature of war; the respect and love for fellow soldiers; the poet's role in writing about atrocities; the problematic relationship between church and state; the repression of emotion vs. being alive to the carnage and the confusion of battles and death; and the immorality of the war. Owen rarely wrote specifically about his own experiences, preferring to impart a more universal message. The critic George Stade wrote, "this is as near as Owen would come to a theory of modern war poetry; its sense of pity and revulsion should be transpersonal and directed outward toward the condition of war and not toward one's own feelings." The disabled soldier in "Disabled" could be any of the millions of injured and impotent young men, the encounter in "Strange Meeting" the grappling that every soldier must face about the truth of war and the acts one committed.
The poem is remarkable for its sound symbolism. The sounds of the guns and rifles are echoed by the words like monstrous, anger, stuttering, rifle, rapid, rattle, patter hasty orisons, demented, and the like, all of which contain sounds like /r/ /d/ /t/, etc. The alliteration imitates the sound of the bullets blowing in the battlefield. In the sestet there is no sound of war but a vast funeral service for the dead soldiers. The poet asserts that there is no need for candles. The candles are replaced by the glimmering tears in the eyes of beloveds. Their glimmering tears become the candles for the funeral services. The flowers come from the tenderness of patient minds. A drawing of curtain symbolizes the darkness or the passing of the sun. The sestet concerns with different insight. It pictures the melancholy state of the mind of the beloved who thinks of her dead lover. She sees her fate caste with darkness.
Owen frequently uses assonance to emphasise the mood of the narrative. In -12, the long ‘oh’ of ‘grow’, ‘only know’ and ‘soaks’ draws out the painful process of the day’s awakening. The same long sounds in ‘Slowly’, ‘ghosts’, ‘home’ and ‘glozed’ convey the extended effort required by snow-numbed spirits to engage with a world beyond their current environment, such slow reactions being typical of the onset of hypothermia. The effort wasn’t worth it – everything was ‘closed’ .