The Poetry of War Sonnets: The Bomb That Changed the World

--August 6, 1945

The awesome power of death, this day uncaged,
Will, like the weak Pandora’s box of woes,
Be with the world wherever war is waged,
And dog man’s footsteps everywhere he goes.
That it, this day, has claimed ten thousand lives,
And saved, perhaps, a hundred thousand more
Who poise in waiting till the day arrives
When they must strike Japan’s unfriendly shore,
Gives little comfort. This atomic blast
Is but the first. There will be more to come
Before the end. The fateful die is cast
And no man yet can calculate the sum
Of death and hate and misery and pain
That was released on Hiroshima’s plain.
                                                                         ~Allen H. Benton

On July 5, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur declared the liberation of the Philippines. By August, Leo was training new recruits as part of the Americans’ plan to invade Japan later that fall. It wouldn’t be long until Leo had amassed enough points to go home. He prayed he would survive whatever awaited him and see his family again.

But all that changed when the United States made the decision to use the atomic bomb.

There aren’t too many souls left on this earth who were alive when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. But I’d wager there are even less who haven’t heard of the death, the destruction, and the vow by many to never again use this devastating weapon.

“The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul.”

~Herbert Hoover

In the small village of Shintoku, Japan, on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Tadashi’s wife, Sachiko, was training to defend her country as all able-bodied Japanese women had been called to do. The Americans were expected to invade at any time and people prepared for death. Rampant propaganda had spread: perhaps they would be crushed by enemy tanks, bitten to death by military dogs. They would take their own lives if necessary, rather than surrender.

It had been nine days since the enemy had decimated the city of Hiroshima with its atomic bomb, six since Nagasaki suffered a similar attack. Emperor Hirohito would speak at noon. To the shock of many, Hirohito announced “a settlement of the present situation.” The word “surrender” was never spoken.

That night Sachiko prayed to the Shinto gods. “Dear spirits, bring my husband home to me.”


Asahi tsugu
Ikusa no owari
Ureshi naku

Today they told me
The war has come to an end.
My heart weeps for joy
                                                      ~Allen H. Benton

*Feature image credit

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