Hiroshima appearing so normal, and mundane is summed up when he concludes:
“I see it might be anywhere -
A station, a town like any other in Japan”
In the same stanza Kirkup uses the weather to build this tone of disappointment. He comments “...the winter afternoon's wet snow falls thinly round me out of a crudded sun”.
This paradox of snow falling from the sun suggests the weather is not as it should be - the snow is not crisp but wet and the sun is not shining fully. Similarly life does not seem to be as it should. He writes in stanza three:
“a kind of life goes on”
This imagery of lifelessness is used throughout the poem such as when he comments on his hotel room being like “an overheated morgue” or visiting the park of peace in “this dying afternoon”. Kirkup suggest that the death that was brought with the bomb carries on with something less than life amongst the people that re-inhabited the city. Kirkup also introduced the city centre of the town with the line;
“far from the station’s lively squalor”.
The oxymoronic use of 'lively squalor' highlights that even when life is present in the poem, it is diminished by the negative connotations of 'squalor'.
To build this image of the lively squalor he lists adjectives to get across the sheer quantity of sights that seem to be almost attacking his senses ;
“Ramshackle, muddy, noisy, drab”
In amongst the things he sees in this chaotic scene he includes:
“Atomic lotion for hair fall out”
The fact that it is mentioned in list form, as if in passing is shows that this is part of everyday life and is not treated preciously by the city's people. The commercialisation of the tragedy is something the poet takes issue with later in the poem when he tells of “souvenir shops piled high with junk” selling “Models of the bombed Industry Promotion Hall Tricked out with glitter-frost and artificial pearls.” This idea of cheapening the memory of the atrocity is continued when he quotes from a brochure that describes the park of peace memorial in a way you would expect of a far more obvious tourist attraction;
“Includes the Peace Tower, a museum containing
Atomic-melted slates and bricks”
The fact that Kirkup feels every part of the new, rebuilt city bares no testimony to the events of '45 is highlighted in his personification of the river which he repeats. He feels it stands alone as witness to the events:
“The river remains unchanged, sad, refusing rehabilitation”
To emphasise this point, he juxtaposes the solid identity of the river with the bridge above it appearing as a “slick abstraction”
It is not until the penultimate stanza when Kirkup's tone of disappointment and cynicism is replaced by that of someone that is genuinely moved - a feeling more like the one he was originally anticipating when he visits the memorial museum and lists the relics of the bomb on display such as;
pants the blasted boys crawled home in to bleed
And slowly die”
This spaced and paused listing contrasts heavily with the jumbled, chaotic effect used in his negative description of the station exit and allows Kirkup to emphasise the relics' powerful effect. Unlike all the other parts of the city he sees, he leaves no comment, no elaboration is required. Similarly, enjambment is used to underline the brutality of the children whose suffering was drawn out.
This list of relics is prefixed by the line;
“The ones that made me weep;”
Kirkup concludes the poem and this huge change of tone employing assonance to emphasise the gentle 'ee' sound which helps to leave the reader with a somber mood and thought:
“Remember only these.
These are the only memorials we need”
'No More Hiroshimas' is a poem in which James Kikup's point of view on the issue of nuclear warfare is made clear. The greatest tragedy and the most horrific lasting effect seems to be that once cities have been erased, they can be rebuilt physically but their spirit is forever gone.