Five Ways To Kill A Man




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1. For each of the first four stanzas, state specifically what is being described. Use examples from the poem to support your answers.
2. Why are these methods considered cumbersome?
3. Why is the suggestion in the fifth stanza simpler?
4. What message do you think the poet is trying to get across in the fifth stanza? Use examples to support your opinion.

5. Do you agree with Edwin Brock’s opinion of human nature and the twentieth century?

Biography of Edwin Brock

Five Ways to Kill a Man                                                              

Edwin Brock

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.