One poem that reflects the futility of war and was written near the conclusion of the Boer War is Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”. The speaker describes a man he killed in battle, attempting to justify the reasons why to himself. However, the man killed seems far too much like the speaker for it to be reasonable. In fact, the speaker believes he may have befriended the man had they met under other circumstances. The last stanza demonstrates this with lines 18 to 20, stating “‘You shoot a fellow down/You’d treat if met where any bar is,/Or help to half-a-crown’” (Stallworthy 151). It is clear that shooting a man down simply due to orders is not sensible or honorable, with the infantry shooting one an...
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...ith witchcraft—which demonstrates how frequently Death is called upon. Killing is far too simple. This poem demonstrates that there is no honor left in war; it is nothing more than a game, in which killing is child’s play.
As time passed through history, the public opinion on war gradually was altered from the initially glorious view to a darker, more fearful perspective. With the occurrence of each war, weapons became more damaging, both physically and mentally. By the conclusion of the Second World War, there was no glory left; after years of stab wound, gunfire, cannons, poison gas, and bombs, only dismay and dread remain. Similarly, each poem reflects this change. From the valiant crusade in “Battle of Brunanburh” to the horrific discussion in “How to Kill”, it is clear that the viewpoint on war has changed drastically with the advances in technology.
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