How To Kill Poem by Keith Douglas

How To Kill

Rating: 4.2


Under the parabola of a ball,
a child turning into a man,
I looked into the air too long.
The ball fell in my hand, it sang
in the closed fist: Open Open
Behold a gift designed to kill.

Now in my dial of glass appears
the soldier who is going to die.
He smiles, and moves about in ways
his mother knows, habits of his.
The wires touch his face: I cry
NOW. Death, like a familiar, hears

And look, has made a man of dust
of a man of flesh. This sorcery
I do. Being damned, I am amused
to see the centre of love diffused
and the wave of love travel into vacancy.
How easy it is to make a ghost.

The weightless mosquito touches
her tiny shadow on the stone,
and with how like, how infinite
a lightness, man and shadow meet.
They fuse. A shadow is a man
when the mosquito death approaches

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Terry Craddock 30 April 2015

the parabola of a ball, a child turning into a man, I looked into the air too long. The ball fell in my hand seems to be a grenade, 'Now in my dial of glass appears/ the soldier who is going to die' confirms the deadly game of war. Once weapons were a superstitious 'sorcery', modern warfare has moved far beyond this as 'How easy it is to make a ghost' confirms. 'The weightless mosquito touches' is so fitting, death like a mosquito is hard to see coming, death is weightless, and death claims the great and small, thus her tiny shadow on the stone, and with how like, how infinite a lightness, man and shadow meet. They fuse. A shadow is a man when the mosquito death approaches contains vast meaning.

16 3 Reply
M Asim Nehal 12 July 2016

I agree with your comments........

0 0 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 12 July 2016

The weightless mosquito touches! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

3 4 Reply
Barry Middleton 12 July 2016

Very interesting poem. And timely. How easy it is for war to create ghosts. Indeed.

2 4 Reply
Gerard Rochford 28 January 2007

this jagged, uneven poem, is nevertheles i feel, one of the great poems of the last century. the mosquito image is wonderfully worked.

4 2 Reply
Fitzjames Wood 17 March 2021

'He smiles, and moves about in ways his mother knows, habits of his.' Is a heartbreaking couple of lines.

0 0 Reply
Chinedu Dike 28 August 2019

Well expressed thoughts and feelings. An insightful creation from the heart. Thanks for sharing................

0 0 Reply
kawaja ranganathyooooo 08 October 2018

I tink dis poom is rubbis. to too rubbiss. I hate bery much

2 5 Reply
Partha Pratim Goswami 15 August 2016

And look, has made a man of dust of a man of flesh. This sorcery I do. Being damned, I am amused to see the centre of love diffused and the wave of love travel into vacancy. How easy it is to make a ghost. -shows the terror of modern warfare which turns all emotion and humanity into nothingness.What a horrible thing this is! the comparison with sorcery and the example of ghost is also astounding.

6 1 Reply
Michael Morgan 12 July 2016

Unusually good war poem- a genre I usually don't find very interesting. MM

3 3 Reply

Keith Douglas

Tunbridge Wells, Kent
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