Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
"Yes; quaint and curious war is!
- Right, speaker. Because when we think of war, the first words that come to Shmoop's mind are quaint and curious.
- What's up with that? Sounds like the understatement of the year, right? He's talking about having killed someone. There's nothing quaint or curious about it.
- It sounds like our speaker doesn't quite have the vocabulary to talk about what really went down. Sure, quaint and curious can mean strange and bizarre, and war is definitely those things. But there's more violence, horror, and destruction at its heart than this guy seems ready to talk about just yet.
- To be fair, he is on to something. After all, it seems that, after all his thoughts about the dead man, this guy has realized something: a lot of war is about luck and chance. And a lot of war is seemingly senseless killing.
- So it is bizarre that he killed this man, who was probably a lot like him. It could have just as easily been the other way around. Heck, there could have just as easily been no killing at all. They could have been friends.
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."
- The poem ends with the speaker coming right out and saying what we've been guessing all along.
- In war, you wind up killing men you'd happily buy a drink for or loan money to. You kill men you'd happily have as friends. You kill fellows.