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By Thomas Hardy

“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.”


Poet Bio

Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset County, England, where he studied architecture, but he later quit to pursue a literary career. In order to gain financial stability, Hardy first published novels, including such classics as Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. Once he was well known and well off financially, he returned to poetry, his first love. Hardy’s dark, bleak verse was at odds with his Victorian contemporaries who tended to present more optimistic perspectives on life.

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