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The Man He Killed -- Thomas Hardy

Guest poem submitted by Jeff Berndt:
(Poem #479) The Man He Killed
     "Had he and I but met
      By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
      Right many a nipperkin!

     "But ranged as infantry,
      And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
      And killed him in his place.

     "I shot him dead because--
      Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
      That's clear enough; although

     "He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
      Off-hand like--just as I--
Was out of work--had sold his traps--
      No other reason why.

     "Yes; quaint and curious war is!
      You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
      Or help to half-a-crown."
-- Thomas Hardy
I don't know how you feel about Thomas Hardy.  Most people know him as a writer
of novels, but here's a poem of his that I ran across some days ago.  The
message in this poem is obvious--no subtleties here.  But I still like it.  I
don't know anything about when exactly Hardy wrote this poem or in response to
what incident; if anybody does, I wouldn't mind hearing about it.


22 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Soccergal255 said...


TandRBarrow said...

I was wondering wha year Thomas Hardy Wrote 'The man he killed'. I thought it
was 1920, but not too sure. If you could tell me that would be great.



KatherinePhillips said...

if we had met before this war we would have been friends
but because we are soilders we have to kill each other
i shot him because he was the enemy
he fought because like me he had no work
how strange war is we fight and kill men that we would be friends with if we met them elsewhere

i don't know how to make this any simpler
just restated what Hardy wrote

Hardy wrote it in 1902 according to the book i have

Astella81 said...

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) and his poem "The Man He Killed" was printed in 1902.

Jonathan Hill said...

Hardy's primary influence for "The Man He Killed" appears to be the Second Boer War that lasted from 1899-1902, but is a general indictment on war in general and the justification one soldier has for killing another.

Anonymous said...

was thomas hardy a soldier himself?

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