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Five Ways To Kill A Man

  • Trad / Edwin Brock / ad. Iain MacKintosh

    There are many different ways a man can be killed
    You can make him bear a cross up a hill
    But for this you need a sandal-wearing crowd, a cock that crows
    And someone to hammer in the nails, in the nails
    And don't forget some thorns to make a crown

    You can shape a piece of steel and teach him how it feels
    To have it pierce the metal cage he wears
    But for this you need white horses, bows and arrows and a cause
    A prince and pride, two noble flags at war, flags at war
    And a castle to hold your banquet in

    Or dispensing with nobility, and if the wind allows
    You may blow gas at him across a mile of mud
    For this you'll need some trenches, plagues of rats, miles of wire
    Black boots, a dozen songs, bomb craters and shell-fire
    Then some more mud, and some round hats made of steel

    In an age of aeroplanes, you can kill him without pity
    Press a button and destroy him and his city
    For this you'll need some factories, ambition and defiance
    Two governments, a psychopath and all the latest science
    And a land that no one needs for many years

    There are many different ways to put a man to death
    But all you need is a simple when and where
    Just ensure he's born today somewhere on this earth
    Do nothing else, my friends, just leave him there, leave him there
    He'll do the rest himself, leave him there

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1969:] C. Day Lewis [...] writes in his book 'The Lyric Impulse': "Unless some poets are willing to experiment with words for music, the lyric impulse as it has been felt for centuries may fade out completely, and the lyric tradition be dead." [To 'Poems and Jazz in Concert'] I have invited poets [like Edwin Brock] whose work I admire and whose poems - although written for the page - display a certain directness, which enhances their oral appeal. And directness, it seems, depends on a poem having one or more of several qualities, singly or combined: an unashamed lyricism, a comic surface, an evocation of the familiar, a colloquial tone, an urgent contemporary relevance. (Jeremy Robson, Poems from 'Poems and Jazz in Concert', Souvenir Press, London, 14f)
    Original by 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.

    (Jeremy Robson, Poems from 'Poems and Jazz in Concert', Souvenir Press, London, 31f)

  • [1988:] My own adaptation to song of Edwin Brock's chilling poem. (Notes Iain MacKintosh, 'Gentle Persuasion')

  • [1999:] But when [Forbes] does find things that are both glorious in their own right and capture important themes [...] one feels doubly pleased: a goal in extra time. This goes, in spades, for a poem I hadn't read before, Edwin Brock's plain, almost flat, 'Five Ways to Kill a Man' which concludes: [as above, last verse]. Not uplifting, true; but a fine four-line epitaph to the century [...]. (Andrew Marr, review of Peter Forbes (Ed.), Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry, Observer, 28 Mar)

  • Tune: 'Ye Jacobites By Name'

Quelle: England / Scotland

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