'Five Ways To Kill A Man' by Edwin Brock
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There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it. To do this
properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince, and a
castle to hold your banquet in.Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch. All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, a psychopath and
land that no-one needs for several years.These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
to kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Five Ways To Kill A Man by Edwin Brock: A Critical Analysis
If you're looking for a poem that will take your breath away and leave you pondering long after you've read it, look no further than "Five Ways To Kill A Man" by Edwin Brock. This piece is a powerhouse of imagery and symbolism, exploring the various ways in which human beings have killed each other throughout history. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the themes and motifs that pervade this poem, as well as the style and language that Brock uses to convey his message.
The Poem's Structure and Style
One of the first things that strikes the reader about "Five Ways To Kill A Man" is its structure. Comprised of five stanzas, each detailing a different method of taking someone's life, the poem is both concise and powerful. Brock's use of free verse allows him to play with the form of each stanza, using enjambment and repetition to create a sense of urgency and intensity. The lack of rhyme scheme also adds to the poem's raw and unfiltered tone, giving it a sense of immediacy that is hard to ignore.
In terms of language, Brock makes use of vivid and often shocking imagery to paint a picture of the world's various atrocities. For example, in the first stanza, he describes a "clean thrust" that can "send the blood flying / six feet out of the wound," a description that is both graphic and visceral. Similarly, in the third stanza, he talks about "straps / tight on the arm" that "squeeze the blood to a beautiful blue jewel / that explodes" - an image that is both beautiful and horrific.
Themes and Motifs
At its core, "Five Ways To Kill A Man" is a meditation on the nature of violence and its place in human history. By detailing these different methods of killing, Brock is asking the reader to consider not only the act itself, but also the cultural and historical contexts in which it has taken place. He doesn't offer a moral or political stance on these atrocities, but rather presents them as facts to be reckoned with.
One of the most striking motifs in the poem is that of beauty. Brock repeatedly juxtaposes images of horrific violence with descriptions of beauty and artistry. For example, in the fourth stanza, he describes the "bright medals" that are pinned to a soldier's chest, calling them "lovely" and "valuable." In doing so, he forces the reader to confront the fact that even the most grotesque acts of violence can be seen as beautiful or heroic within a certain context. This motif of beauty also highlights the way in which violence is often fetishized or glorified within our culture, particularly in the realm of war.
Another key theme in the poem is the idea of power and control. Brock repeatedly uses language that emphasizes the perpetrator's control over the victim - for example, describing the "clean thrust" of the dagger, or the "tight straps" that hold a prisoner in place. This theme speaks to the inherent imbalance of power that often lies at the heart of violence, and the way in which those in positions of power can use violence to maintain their control.
So what is Brock trying to say with this poem? Ultimately, I believe that he is pushing us to confront the reality of violence and its pervasive presence in human history. By detailing these different methods of killing, he is asking us to consider what it means to live in a world where these atrocities are not only possible, but often celebrated or justified. He is also forcing us to confront the way in which violence can be both beautiful and horrific, and the way in which power and control often underlie these acts.
At the same time, however, I think that Brock is also trying to push us towards empathy and understanding. By presenting these different methods of killing in such a visceral way, he is asking us to put ourselves in the shoes of both the perpetrator and the victim. He is asking us to consider the complex web of factors - cultural, historical, psychological - that can lead someone to commit an act of violence, and to recognize that there are often no easy answers or simple explanations.
In the end, "Five Ways To Kill A Man" is a powerful and haunting poem that forces us to confront some of the darkest aspects of human nature. Through its vivid imagery, striking motifs, and raw language, it asks us to consider the way in which violence has shaped our world, and to reflect on our own complicity in perpetuating these acts. Yet at the same time, it also pushes us towards empathy and understanding, and encourages us to grapple with the complex and messy realities of the human experience. In short, it is a masterpiece of modern poetry that deserves to be read and studied for years to come.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Five Ways to Kill a Man: A Poetic Masterpiece by Edwin Brock
Edwin Brock’s poem “Five Ways to Kill a Man” is a powerful and thought-provoking work that explores the various ways in which human beings have killed each other throughout history. The poem is a commentary on the dark side of human nature, and it forces the reader to confront the brutal reality of violence and death.
The poem is structured in five stanzas, each of which describes a different method of killing. The first stanza describes killing with a bomb, the second with a knife, the third with a gun, the fourth with a disease, and the fifth with starvation. Each stanza is written in a different style, reflecting the different ways in which the killing takes place.
The first stanza, which describes killing with a bomb, is written in a fast-paced, staccato style that reflects the sudden and explosive nature of the act. The stanza begins with the line “There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man,” which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The use of the word “cumbersome” suggests that killing is not an easy or simple task, but rather a complex and difficult one. The stanza goes on to describe the use of a bomb, with lines such as “You can make him carry a plank of wood / To the top of a hill and nail him to it” and “You can tie him to a stake and slowly / roast him to death.”
The second stanza, which describes killing with a knife, is written in a more fluid and lyrical style that reflects the intimate and personal nature of the act. The stanza begins with the line “There are many easy ways to kill a man,” which suggests that killing with a knife is a more straightforward and direct method than killing with a bomb. The stanza goes on to describe the use of a knife, with lines such as “You can push him off a cliff / Into the deep blue sea” and “You can take a rope and hang him high.”
The third stanza, which describes killing with a gun, is written in a more detached and clinical style that reflects the impersonal and mechanical nature of the act. The stanza begins with the line “There are many rapid ways to kill a man,” which suggests that killing with a gun is a quick and efficient method. The stanza goes on to describe the use of a gun, with lines such as “You can shoot him in the back / Because he’s running away” and “You can shoot him in the face / Because he’s got a funny look.”
The fourth stanza, which describes killing with a disease, is written in a more somber and reflective style that reflects the slow and insidious nature of the act. The stanza begins with the line “There are many slow ways to kill a man,” which suggests that killing with a disease is a gradual and painful process. The stanza goes on to describe the use of a disease, with lines such as “You can give him a disease / And let him waste away” and “You can starve him of oxygen / Till he turns blue and dies.”
The fifth and final stanza, which describes killing with starvation, is written in a more desperate and haunting style that reflects the ultimate futility of the act. The stanza begins with the line “There are many cruel ways to kill a man,” which suggests that killing with starvation is a particularly cruel and inhumane method. The stanza goes on to describe the use of starvation, with lines such as “You can leave him in a desert / Without a drop of water” and “You can lock him in a room / Without a crumb of bread.”
Throughout the poem, Brock uses vivid and evocative language to describe the various methods of killing. He also uses repetition and rhyme to create a sense of rhythm and momentum, which adds to the poem’s power and impact. For example, the repetition of the phrase “There are many” at the beginning of each stanza creates a sense of inevitability and repetition, which reinforces the poem’s message that killing is a recurring and persistent aspect of human history.
In addition to its powerful imagery and language, “Five Ways to Kill a Man” is also notable for its thematic depth and complexity. The poem is not simply a condemnation of violence and death, but also a meditation on the nature of human cruelty and the ways in which it manifests itself. The poem suggests that killing is not simply a physical act, but also a psychological and emotional one, and that it is rooted in the darker aspects of human nature such as fear, anger, and hatred.
Overall, “Five Ways to Kill a Man” is a masterful work of poetry that explores the darkest aspects of human nature with honesty, clarity, and insight. It is a poem that forces the reader to confront the brutal reality of violence and death, and to reflect on the ways in which we as human beings have inflicted harm on each other throughout history. It is a poem that is both timeless and timely, and that speaks to the enduring relevance of poetry as a means of exploring the human condition.
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