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“The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy
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.
We have lots of irony: of place (the bar vs. the battlefield); of theme (friends vs. enemies in war); verbal irony: "quaint and curious war is" and "that's clear enought" are classic understatement.
We have an unreliable (naive) narrator / speaker: he does not know who he is and why things are.
We also have a imbedded narrator: all of this is being overheard by a narrator in the bar, so the narrator is like the reader, an indirect source.
We have imagery, mainly to do with the price of things ("half a crown", "sold his traps")
We have character foils (reflections of each other): "But ranged as infantry,/ And staring face to face, / I shot at him as he at me, / And killed him in his place." Are they friends or foes?
We have a logical fallacy (circular reasoning): "I shot him dead because--/Because he was my foe, / Just so: my foe of course he was; / That's clear enough; although."
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