Caroline McKinnon - Year 12 English
Analytical Response - Poetry
'No More Hiroshimas' by James Kirkup and 'Icarus Allsorts' by Roger McGough can appear, on a superficial level, to be completely different poems. The former is long, gloomy and reflective, written in a narrative, free verse style, in first person. The latter is a short, satirical rhyming poem with an upbeat tone.
Upon closer analysis, however, the two pieces are not only bound together by a common overall theme of nuclear war, but share the same underlying theme and conclusion.
'No More Hiroshimas', as the title suggests, is a dismal reflection on life in post atomic bomb Hiroshima, Japan. The poem is basically an outright plea for the general public to realize the level of devastation war causes, and it strives to conjure anti-war emotions within the reader.
Throughout the poem, Hiroshima is portrayed several times as geared entirely towards the tourist trade. The poet seems to be pointing out that society can commercialize even death and destruction, selling 'atomic lotion, for hair fall-out' (1.8-9), and creating tourist attractions such as the 'Atomic Bomb Explosion Centre' (7.47), containing mementos of the blast.
The poet's evident disgust at this commercialization appears to be one of the underlying messages in the poem, as it is made especially clear in this verse:
"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
That is beyond all hope of indignation. Anger, too, is dead. And why should memorials of what is far
From pleasant have the grace that helps us to forget?"
Death is a common factor used to describe many aspects of Hiroshima. The poet's hotel room is referred to as an 'overheated morgue' (4.31), and in the next verse, he states that 'anger, too, is dead'. 'In the dying afternoon, I wander dying round the Park of Peace' (6.40)...
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