Spender And Sankichi: Two Views Of Disaster

1895 Words4 Pages

Stephen Spender's "Epilogue to a Human Drama" and Toge Sankichi's "Dying" are poems detailing the destruction of two cities, London and Hiroshima, respectively, during or after World War II bombings. Spender wrote "Epilogue to a Human Drama," hereafter referred to as "Epilogue," after a December air raid of London during the Battle of Britain, which ravaged and razed much of England from Summer 1940 until Spring 1941. Sankichi wrote "Dying" from his vivid recollections of the surprise atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which decimated the Japanese city in less than a second. Both the Battle of Britain and Hiroshima were horrible, senseless, and vicious incidents that exacted gave tolls on innocent victims. Spender endured the Battle of Britain, and Sankichi experienced the horror of Hiroshima. The poets' responses differ greatly in style and perspective, but each work clearly defines the ramifications of atrocities such as those committed against Spender, Sankichi, and the populations of London and Hiroshima.

England's Royal Air Force battled Germany's Luftwaffe from August 1940 until May 1941. During that conflict, England was subjected to air raids day and night. When Hitler finally withdrew his birds of war, four hundred thousand British citizens had been killed, forty-six thousand had been seriously wounded, and one million homes had been leveled. After one raid, a relief team helped a woman who had covered been covered in powdered brick and plaster and was bleeding profusely. As they aided her, she repeated four words continually in a tone of quiet terror: "Man's inhumanity to man…Man's inhumanity to man…" (Jablonski 148).

Stephen Spender was in London for the duration of the bombings. He saw the demolition of surrounding buildings. He heard the droning of approaching bombers. He smelled the smoke of raging infernos. In his autobiography World Within World, Spender describes his mental condition during the raids as a "trance-like condition" and describes how he forced himself to think of places and things as merely mental concepts in order to avoid losing mental control (285).

Hiroshima's destruction came without warning. Japanese High Command, which was located Hiroshima's ancient castle, was alerted early to the approach of the Enola Gay by an observation post on the island of Shikoku. The High Command elected to sound no air raid warning because they considered it senseless to disrupt work in local armament factories due to a single plane (Bruckner 98). At precisely 8:15 AM local time, the fuse was lit inside the descending bomb.

Open Document