August 10th, 1945 - The Day After

Edward Lowbury

Who will be next to break this terrible silence,
While the doom of war still shivers over these
Unwilling either to die or to be defeated, -
In the agony of death still torn, contorted,
Torn between saving face and body, both
Mutilated almost beyond recognition?
The face fights on long after
The body's overwhelmed and hacked to pieces.
Every scar of it's their fault; yet I am dumb;
In the blind eyes of pity the good and the evil
Are equals when they're gasping in the sand,
Helpless. The reality so blinds
Our senses that it seems less than a dream,
Yet we shall live to say 'Twice in a lifetime
We saw such nakedness that shame
Itself could not look on, and of all the feelings,
Hate, anger, justice, vengeance, violence, -
Horror alone remained, its organ voice
Searching us with a sickening clarity.'
And now the word comes in of those two cities
With all their living burden
Blown to the wind by power
Unused except by God at the creation, -
Atomised in the flash of an eye.
Who else but God or the instrument of God
Has power to pass such sentence?
Here the road forks, to survival or extinction,
And I hold my tongue through the awful silence,
For if God had nothing to do with it,
Extinction is the least price man can pay.

Editor's note: Written 10th August 1945, the day after Nagasaki, which followed Hiroshima, before the war ended. First published in Equator, magazine of the Mombasa Arts Club, December 1945.

Edward Lowbury
The Voice of War -- Michael Joseph Ltd (1995)