Poem introduction

The first two poems draw on Hardy’s thoughts during the war between Britain and the South African Dutch, the so-called Boer War. This one, 'The Man He Killed', was dated 1902 by Hardy, and is meant to be spoken by a soldier.

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."

Where next?


Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy Downloads read by Anthony Thwaite & Lawrence Sail

1The Man He Killed (read by Anthony Thwaite)


2Drummer Hodge (read by Anthony Thwaite)


3The Ruined Maid (read by Anthony Thwaite)


4The Voice (read by Anthony Thwaite)


5The Darkling Thrush (read by Lawrence Sail)


6In Time of the Breaking of Nations (read by Anthony Thwaite)