Monday, 6 August 2012

Denise Levertov (24/10/23 - 20/12/97) - Gathered at the River

Today marks the day that on August 6th , 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese City of Hiroshima, followed a few days later by another dropped on the city of Nagasaki. This effectively, ended World War II, but at such cost - the two cities were destroyed , about 2000,000 people were slaughtered, with many more people dying later from injuries and illnesses.
Today has now become a focus for anti-war and anti-nuclear discussions and demonstrations across the globe. We must never forget, and hope it never ever happens again.

As if the trees were not indifferent...

A breeze flutters the candles but the trees give off
a sense of listening, of hush.

The dust of August on their leaves.
But it grows dark. Their dark green
is something known about, not seen.

But summer twilight takes away
only color, not form. The tree-forms,
massive trunks and the great domed heads,
leaning in towards us, are visible,

a half-circle of attention.

They listen, because the war
we speak of , the human war with ourselves,

the war against earth
against nature,
is a war against them.

The wordsare spoken
of those who survived a while,
lying shadowgraphs, eyes fixed forever
on witnessed horror,

who survived to give
testimony, that no-ne
may plead ignorance.
Contra naturam. The trees,
the trees are not indifferent.

We intone together, Never again,

we  stand in a circle,
singing, speaking, making vows,
remembering the dead
of Hiroshima,
of Nagasaki.

We are holding candles: we kneel to set them
 afloat on the dark river
as they do there in Hiroshima. We are invoking

saints and prophets
heroes and heroines of justice and peace,
to be with us, to help us
stop the torment of our evil dreams. . .


Wind threathened flames bob on the current . . .

They don't get far from shore. But none capsizes
even in the swell of a boat's wake.

The waxy paper cups sheltering them
catch fire. But still the candles
sail their gold downstream.

And still the trees ponder our strange doings, as if
well aware that if we fail,
we fail also for them:
if our resolves and prayers are week and fail

there will be nothing left of their slow and innocent wisdom,

no roots
no bole nor branch,

no memory
of shade,
of leaf,

no pollen.

to C.N.D
Cymru piece about
commemorations in Wales.

Poem reprinted from
Peace or Perish /A crisis Anthology
Poets for Peace, San Francisco, 1983

No comments:

Post a Comment