Keith Douglas

(January 24, 1920 – June 9, 1944 / Tunbridge Wells, Kent)

How To Kill


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

Submitted: Thursday, December 18, 2003
Edited: Friday, January 20, 2012

Form:


Do you like this poem?
5 person liked.
2 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: soldier, travel, death, child, mother, love, children, smile

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (How To Kill by Keith Douglas )

Enter the verification code :

  • Rookie - 776 Points Nika Mcguin (2/21/2014 7:32:00 PM)

    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.

    These lines are so bone chilling. I also liked the shadow/mosquito verse. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Gerard Rochford (1/28/2007 2:01:00 PM)

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

Read all 3 comments »

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. If, Rudyard Kipling
  5. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  6. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  7. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  8. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  9. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  10. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

Poem of the Day

poet Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Christ our Lord


I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
...... Read complete »

 

Modern Poem

poet Ada Cambridge

 

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. They Said, Lonnie Hicks
  2. Taken As Directed., Norman Jin Shyr Wang
  3. Exercises Of The Mind, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  4. Accounting For Passion, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  5. Poetry, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
  6. The Best Is To Forget, Shalom Freedman
  7. Esta noche, Sergio Jaime
  8. My Pen Is Happy, King Happy
  9. All of The Above, King Happy
  10. In a Minute, King Happy
[Hata Bildir]