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Edwin Brock
· Brock was born in Dulwich, London, in 1927. He
grew up in a turbulent working class family with
no literary aspirations.
· He won a scholarship to a local grammar school
but his formal education ended after he gained
his School Certificate.
· Brock's interest in poetry was inspired by a
paperback anthology of modern verse which he
picked up idly as a bored 18-year old, waiting to
be de-mobbed from the Royal Navy at the end of
the Second World War.
· This chance encounter in Hong Kong was to prove
revelatory and from then on Brock, completely
self-taught, began to write his own poems.…read more

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About the poem
This poem by Edwin Brock is often considered a poem against
war, whereas in fact it is a poem about the loss of
humanity. It is written much like an instruction guide or recipe
book, telling the reader the manner in which a man can be
efficiently killed. Each stanza deals with one method of killing;
each one distancing the killer further from his victim, till in the
last stanza there is neither killer nor victim, but just a living
death.
This poem is divided into 5 different stanzas, all of which involve
different ways to die. The poem is written rather coldly and treats
death as an every day issue, whilst the rest of us try not to think of
such things. It is very dispassionate about life. The final stanza is
also a political comment, as if to challenge our thought processes
toward our every day life.…read more

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Structure…read more

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Analysis
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.…read more

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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.…read more

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