No More Hiroshimas.
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No More Hiroshimas 'No More Hiroshimas' by James Kirkup is a very atypical and extensive poem dealing with the feelings that the poet has whilst exploring the city of Hiroshima, several decades after the atomic bomb was dropped there during the Second World War. It follows his progress through the city, trying to find something that will let him truly appreciate the horror of the nuclear explosion. This poem shares few conventions with most other poems. It utilises blank verse, which allows it to read as a stream of consciousness rather than a carefully structured poem, and also prevents the trivialisation of the subject matter that a rhyme scheme could introduce. The only time that a rhyming couplet is used, in stanza six, it stands out dramatically. In addition, the poem is arranged into logical stanzas, each (except for the final two stanzas) dealing with a different place that Kirkup visits on his search for a proper tribute to the dead. The poet's voice is also predominant in this piece, as he gives his personal opinions of everything that he passes. However, this is absent in the penultimate stanza, which makes it even more poignant. The first stanza begins with Kirkup's impressions of the station at Hiroshima.
This implies not only that there is a façade of cheerfulness for the tourists, but also that the decorations are old and neglected, something which the 'flatulent balloons' also symbolise. In the hall is a Cinderella coach-shaped cake, which is entirely incongruous with the Christmas decorations and Hiroshima in general. There are also modern stairs, which are strangely dangerous. This might tie in with the next image, which begins the theme of death in this poem - the poet's room is an 'overheated morgue'. The hotel is also entirely deserted, implying that, while tourists once overran Hiroshima, their interest has waned. There are also electric, or artificial, chimes that play out over the 'tidy waste', the sterile wilderness of Hiroshima now that the tourists have left from. Their hymn is unrecognisable to the Japanese, probably in a foreign language. Very little in Hiroshima seems to concern the residents of the city itself. The start of the next stanza summarises the poet's feelings towards Hiroshima. He states that: Here atomic peace is geared to meet the tourist trade. Let it remain like this, for all the world to see, Without nobility or loveliness, and dogged with shame He sees the memorials and souvenirs as very impersonal and meaningless. The 'shame' in the passage above may also connect to the Japanese people's shame that their country was reduced to this.
This list is profound and disturbing, and truly brings home the shock that the poet felt when finally seeing something that makes him 'weep'. In addition, the death theme is mentioned again, as boys crawled home to 'slowly die'. The final stanza is but two lines long, and states: Remember only these. They are the memorials we need. He discounts all of the grand memorials and parks outside in favour of the human, genuine artefacts that he finds in the museum, which are really what we should remember those killed by. I felt that the list of items in the penultimate stanza is the most powerful imagery in the poem, even though it is so simple. Its simplicity is the major reason for its poignancy - it is a stark contrast to the impressive but impersonal monuments and tourist attractions elsewhere in the city. In this poem, Kirkup is trying to lead us through his journey of discovery through Hiroshima, and he does this very effectively. We have to wait, like him, to find something that truly means something personal in relation to the atomic holocaust. This journey is metaphorical as much as it is literal, as he seeks to find these touching memorials. Much of his imagery is also very powerful when he is laying scorn on the city of Hiroshima, particularly the themes of dying and artificiality. His aim in writing this poem was achieved well.
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