Five Ways to Kill a Man

This Poem was recommended by a friend of mine , can you find the 5 hidden meanings (references) ??

title : Five Ways to Kill a Man
Poet : Edwin Brock

Five Ways to Kill a Man

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.
Edwin Brock

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6 thoughts on “Five Ways to Kill a Man

  1. Some things you might need to know.
    It is only 5 stanzas and you have the spacing wrong. Here is the correct spacing:

    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.

    Hey I was trying to research on this poem too. And I’ve gathered quite a bit of information on this poem, just for my english final tomorrow. If you are doing a final too you might want to be able to recite this poem too.
    There are two key facts about this poem:
    a) It is written like a recipe (figurative language)and
    b) The four different refrences of history.

    The way that it is written like a recipe is still vague to me, but I believe the reason why it is like a recipe is because of a few major symbols. The “metal cage” may represent a beater, or something that is used to wisk. Secondly the word cumbersome symbolizes the meat and sausage of what is known as a famous British dish, the toad-in-a-hole (I do not exactly know what thiss meant when I found this). Each stanza (the seperate paragraphs, a poetic term) can represent one recipe, as ingredents are thrown together to create death.

    The second level of the poem
    How this poem references between some historical events is quite unique.
    The first stanza talks about the death of christ, or a reference to Christianity (sorry if incorrect spelling but I am actuallya Buddhist O.o). This first stanza allows the seperation between the two main characters of the plot. The killer and the victim. Note how the last sentence “one/man to hammer the nails home” (note the “/” represents the beginning of a new line in poetry), the purpose of this line is to isolate the man from the victim.
    Stanza two is a reference to the medieval times. As the metal cage can also represent the armor of the knight as the “white horse” and the “english trees, men with bows and arrows” show that chronically it was placed around the 1500’s. Note that the seperation between the killer and the victim is not as close, where a “metal cage” stands between them, dissipating the death and its meaning.
    Stanza three represents WWI which hieghtens the idea of death that it is more common, and contrasts it with recipes, as eating is as common as death.
    Stanza four specifically targets the bombing of Hiroshima, where one switch killed millions of innocent Japanese victims. The effect of this fourth stazna allows a comparsion of turning on a light switch, to the death of millions.
    Stanza five completely juxtaposes between the other stanzas (juxtapose is a fancy word of being compared to things that are completely different). This last stanza is not cumbersome (and for those who haven’t looked it up, cumbersome means akward or inconvienent). This last stanza is not cumbersome, as Brock says that for the easiest way to die, you can leave someone in our century today.

    Extra notes for those who are pessimistic and need more info:
    Brock is a brilliant poet where there are hidden messages throughout the poem:
    a) the chronical order of this poem is set specifically to somewhat question and scare the reader. The time differences between each stanza shortens (first stanza: 33 AD, second stanza: 1500 AD, Third stanza: 1914, Fourth Stanza: 1945) As it shortens from 1300 years to 400 years to 20 years. It questions when will the next one arrive?
    b) He uses this poem to satrically impose on the idea that, in between the time of you reading this poem, how many people will have died? What about the third world countries? It does hint the idea that we kill ourselves with cigarettes, drunk driving, drugs, and so forth, but between the time you reading this peom, you could have been outside playing sports, or something, while many suffer in poverty.

    Hope this helps, and hope I pass enlish tomorrow O.o

  2. thanx alan for the info :), hope u pass ur exam.
    anyway as for the poen the best thing said is
    “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.”
    its just lovely

  3. The five ‘hidden’ meanings (if you can even call them hidden) are actually quite simple. The first is obviously Jesus being crucified. The second is the medievil battle between two villages (I forget the names. I think one of the villages was Lancaster or something). The third is the Battle of Marne, when the Germans unleashed around 5000 barrels of chlorine gas into the air when the wind blew at the British. The fourth was the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the Americans bombed them both with nuclear bombs. The fourth does not refer to anything. It simply states Edwin Brock’s views on life. He’s saying that through all of the past tortures, simply living in modern day is worse. Also, there is a hidden meaning behind this poem. Brock’s theory was that as time progresses, the killer and victim gradually get farther and farther apart, until there are no killers or victims. The crucifiction of Jesus Christ had the killer literally inches away while he nailed him down. At the last stanza, there is neither a killer nor a victim. Think about it. ;D

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