Congratulations for being alive and listening.
Millions didn’t make it. They died before their time, and they are gone and gone, for the Fascists got them. . . .
Fire a cannon to their memory!
God and uranium were on our side.
And the wrath of the atom fell like a commandment,
And the very planet quivered with implications.
Tokyo Rose was hung over from the news next day
And the Emperor, he of the august stupid face, prayed to himself for succor.
Sound the gun for Achilles the Atom and the war workers: Newton and Galileo, Curie and Einstein, the Archangel Gabriel, and the community of Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Did Americans really need to commemorate the dead by “[s]ound[ing] the gun,” by firing yet another cannon? After all, it was US weaponry, not “the Fascist,” that “got them” over in Japan. Unlike the subdued “On a Note of Triumph,” “God and Uranium” is an unquestioning sanction of total warfare, of nuclear means justifying the end—the end of a culture: “The Jap who never lost a war has lost a world: learning, / This too is worth a cheer.”
Instead, rather too sure about a peaceful future, Corwin’s salute to the victors asserts that the “peoples have come a long way since the time of Cain.” He claims that, “[e]ffective 15 August, peace, its care and handling, becomes our ward.” It appears that the US still fancies itself to be such a “ward,” imposing its views onto the world, jeopardizing the lives of thousands of civilians in a quest for a Western-centric conception of peace.
Now we are in it together:
The rich with their automatic comforts, and the family bunkering seven in a room.
The highly trained, who understand the poems and the engines; and those whose culture measures five hundred words
across the middle: Old people tired of wars and winters, and children who do not yet know they are made of matter:
The famous face in four colors, nationalized on the cover of the magazine; and the crowd face, the background face, gray, nameless, out of focus:
Now we are in it, in it together.
The secrets of the earth have been peeled, one by one, until the core is bare:
The latest recipe is private, in a guarded book, but the stink of death is public on the wind from Nagasaki:
The nations have heard of the fission of the atom and have seen the photographs: skies aboil with interlocking fury, mushrooms of uranium smoke ascending to where angels patrol uneasily.
After all, we are still “in it together. . . .”