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In Time of “The Breaking of Nations”
Thomas Hardy (1915)
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Only a man harrowing clods
      In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
      Half asleep as they stalk.


Only a thin smoke without flame
      From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
      Though Dynasties pass.


Yonder a maid and her wight
      Come whispering by:
War’s annals will cloud into night
      Ere their story die.

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The Man He Killed
from “The Dynasts” by Thomas Hardy (1915)
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      “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.”

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Poems of War collection > Table of Contents

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