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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1947

Epitaph For An American Bomber

Epitaph For An American Bomber

In this enemy city where your winged danger
brushed night skies in catherine-wheel crescendo
to light these candles these obsequies these tremendous
inorganic pillars of anger
and our hearts hallowed it, tautstrung like antennae
to hope or horror for the B-29 burning
o disastrous nightship drinking white fire and turning
quenched now, in the dark bay.
The song of young fliers drowns in the dirge of Icarus.
But we, on a ruined morning in windy Tokyo,
cannot breathe for the ashes that choke our sorrow
and a grief beyond tears
for what we have seen: these shadow-shapes in file
picking their lost way dazed among dead who are lucky
and may not watch, as we must, a blind man breaking
the rag doll that was a child.

James Bertram