In Poems "The Man He Killed", "Reconciliation", and "Dreamers", the Authors Show
That Man Kills Because He Must


In the chosen poems, Thomas Hardy, Walt Whitman, and Sigfried Sassoon
each have a common viewpoint: war brings out the worst in man, a feeling buried
deep inside the heart. Even with this clotting of the mind due to the twisting
ways of war, a flicker of remorse, a dream of someplace, something else still
exists within the rational thought. These poems express hope, the hope that war
will not be necessary. They show that man only kills because he must, not
because of some inbred passion for death. These three authors express this
viewpoint in their own ways in their poems: "The Man He Killed",
"Reconciliation", and "Dreamers".

In The Man He Killed, Hardy speaks about the absurdity of war. He gives
a narrative of how he kills a "foe", and that this "foe" could be a friend if
they met "by some old ancient inn", instead of the battlefield. Hardy says
"...quaint and curious war is...you shoot a fellow down you\'d treat if met
where any bar is..." In this Hardy speaks how war twists the mind, and also
makes you kill people you have no personal vendetta against.

In Reconciliation, Whitman shows the devastation of war. In a war, you
kill someone and even if you win, you lose. Whitman describes a man mourning
over the death of his foe. He rejoices over the ultimate death of war
"Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must...be utterly lost." He
also feels great remorse over his so called enemy\'s death "For my enemy...a man
divine as myself is dead." He then shows his love for the enemy "I...bend down
and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin." He shows war
twisting the mind of a soldier who then deeply regretted his actions.

In Dreamers, Sassoon shows the soldiers dreaming of heavenly places,
while at the same time they are at war. Yet these heavenly places are things we
take for granted everyday, such as "clean beds", "picture shows", or "firelit
homes". These men have learned to appreciate them, and now are their everyday
dreams, while they are in "foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats, and in the ruined
trenches, lashed with rain". There isn\'t hate in this poem usually associated
with war, there is a common dream among all soldiers fearing their life.

In these poems we see a common thread, the distortion of the mind,
through war. In The Man He Killed, we see Hardy\'s view of war twisting the mind
and forcing soldiers to kill men they have no personal vendetta against. In
Reconciliation, we see Whitman\'s view of soldiers\' minds being twisted in order
to achieve an apparent win, but in reality both sides have lost. In Dreamers,
we see Sassoon\'s view of the common soldier dreaming of places where they\'d
rather be, rather than fearing their life with every step they take. In this we
see the common theme of war twisting and distorting the minds of those involved
as well as a dream of these soldiers forced to kill against their personal will
but because they must.

Category: English