Thomas Hardy Poem – The Man He Killed

I’ve got the Ken Burns series playing in the background as I procrastinate work on some business planning, and just passed the James Symington recitation. Though it’s not about the Civil War, that brother-against-brother theme made me think it’s worth sharing.

Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set 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.

The poem is available in this collection of Hardy’s poetry:

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