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10 Important Poems About Hiroshima 

The devastating impact of Hiroshima’s atomic bomb resonates through poignant poems, capturing the human toll of war.

Hiroshima Poems

The bombing of Hiroshima claimed the lives of approximately 140,000 people and left countless others with severe injuries and long-lasting trauma. These poems not only convey the impact of the atomic bomb but also serve as a powerful reminder of the human toll of war.

August 6 by Tōge Sankichi

In this poem, the poet captures the horror and devastation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. The poem describes the aftermath of the bombing, with vivid and haunting images of the destruction and loss of life that occurred. 

Here are the first few lines: 

can we forget that flash?

suddenly 30,000 in the streets disappeared

in the crushed depths of darkness

the shrieks of 50,000 died out

The poet brings to life the despair and tragedy of the victims of the bombing, including the naked bodies of survivors and the corpses scattered throughout the city. The poem asks a powerful question, “Can it be forgotten?!” emphasizing the importance of remembering the tragic events of history to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future.

Hiroshima after Nuclear Bomb
A shocking image of Hiroshima City after the bombing

November by William Stafford 

In his poem ‘November,’ William Stafford portrays a sense of forgiveness and hope after the devastation of Hiroshima. The snowfall, likened to forgiveness, gently covers and comforts the city’s ruins, offering a momentary sense of peace. Stafford imagines himself as a volunteer for this “clean message,” symbolizing the possibility of renewal and reconciliation. Here are the first lines:

From the sky in the form of snow

comes the great forgiveness.

Rain grown soft, the flakes descend

and rest; they nestle close, each one

The world continues on, and Stafford acknowledges the power of human connection as he and his friends come together in solidarity. Despite the weight of the tragedy, the poem ends on a note of resilience and determination to move forward.

Let Us Be Midwives! An untold story of the atomic bombing by Sadako Kurihara

This is a powerful and haunting poem that tells the untold story of the atomic bombing through the lens of childbirth. The poem vividly describes the chaos and horror of the aftermath of the bombing, with victims jammed into a dark and smelly basement. Amidst all this, a young woman goes into labor, and despite the lack of resources, a seriously injured midwife steps up to help.

Here are the first few lines, as translated by Richard Minear:

Night in the basement of a concrete structure now in ruins.

Victims of the atomic bomb jammed the room;

It was dark—not even a single candle.

The smell of fresh blood, the stench of death,

The poem is a powerful call to action, urging us to be midwives in all aspects of life, to bring new life and hope in the midst of darkness and despair, even if it means laying down our own lives to do so.

Hiroshima Bomb Dome Memorial
The solemn Hiroshima Bomb Dome Memorial

Aerial Photograph Before the Atomic Bomb by Toi Derricotte

In this poem, Toi Derricotte reflects on the haunting image of a pre-bombing Hiroshima captured in a photograph. She describes her attempts to understand the massive wheel-like structure in the picture and the atom spinning above the town.

Here are a few lines: 

Why did such terrible events

catch my eye? After Hiroshima,

I turned the picture in Life around

in circles, trying to figure out this huge

Derricotte muses on the eerie calm before destruction, and the possibility of a different outcome had the bomb not been dropped. She wonders if the atom could have been “sucked back in its lead bag” and if the men who went on to suffer madness and suicide could have gone on to lead peaceful and fulfilling lives.

Hiroshima by Agyega

In this piece, the author poetically captures the horrors of the atomic bombing. The poem begins with a jarring image of the sun appearing suddenly in the city square, but not from the sky – from the earth torn open by the bomb. The devastation is described vividly as “human shadows” pitch in every direction.

The poem begins with:

On this day, the sun

Appeared-no, not slowly over the horizon-

But right in the city square.

A blast of dazzle poured over,

The poem goes on to contrast the fleeting moment of the explosion with the lasting impact on the people of Hiroshima, as men become mist and then disappear while their shadows remain burned onto the rocks and stones of the vacant streets. The white shadows are a haunting reminder of the human cost of war and destruction.

Hiroshima Child by Nazim Hikmet

This poem gives voice to a young victim of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The child, who died at the age of seven, speaks from beyond the grave, hauntingly describing the horrors of her death. Her hair was scorched, her eyes blinded, and her bones turned to dust. 

Here are a few lines: 

I come and stand at every door

But none can hear my silent tread

I knock and yet remain unseen

For I am dead for I am dead

She asks for nothing for herself, only for peace, so that children of the world can live and grow and laugh and play.

Umeboshi by Ikeda Some

This poem by Ikeda Some describes the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. The speaker describes being trapped under rubble but being helped out and given an umeboshi, a type of Japanese pickled plum.

The poem begins with: 

Of course, at that moment, what shall I say,

together with the glass case in the dining room

I tumbled.

Rumble, rumble, each time it shook

The umeboshi helps the speaker recover their strength and survive. The poem emphasizes the power of simple, nourishing food in times of crisis and the resilience of the human spirit.

Hiroshima Today
The bomb exploded in the sky in the center of this image

City in Flames by Nakamura On

Nakamura On’s poem ‘City in Flames’ is a haunting depiction of the devastation caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Through vivid imagery, the poem conveys the horrors experienced by the survivors of the bombing, from the disfigurement of their bodies to the loss of their loved ones. 

Under a pale blue flash, the black sun,

a dead sunflower, and a collapsed roof,

people lifted their faces voicelessly.

The image of the mother sacrificing herself to save her child is particularly heartbreaking, as is the sight of the procession of naked, ghostly figures whose humanity has been stripped away by the bombing. 

The final image of the old woman clutching her own intestines is a visceral reminder of the gruesome physical toll of the bombing.

Hiroshima Bomb Dome Memorial Park
The Hiroshima Bomb Dome Peace Memorial Park

A Naked Group Without Skin by Yamamoto Yasuo

This poem is a heartbreaking account of the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The vivid imagery of the naked group without skin, crying out for water, and the doctor pasting oil on dying people, including a burnt child, is haunting. 

Here are a few lines: 

In the big shelter at the foot of Mount Hiji 

a naked group without skin 

looking up 

or lying face down

The parents’ desperation to save their child and the doctor’s helplessness to do so, as he himself is naked and burned, is a tragic portrayal of the human toll of war. The final lines leave a sense of hopelessness and despair as the author imagines the eventual deaths of all those in the shelter, cursing the brutality of war.

To the Voiceless by Yamada Kazuko

This is a poignant poem about Hiroshima that speaks to the pain of being ignored or forgotten. The poet addresses those who feel voiceless, those whose thoughts and feelings go unheard. The poem acknowledges the cruelty of this reality, and yet it also offers a glimmer of hope in the form of an invitation to connect. 

The poem includes these lines: 

No matter what you say 

it is cruel 

already forgotten by everyone

and buried away

The idea of ghosts talking with their morn (morning) suggests a desire to transcend the limitations of time and space, to communicate beyond the physical world.


What is a poem about Hiroshima?

There are a wide variety of poems written about the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Most of these, like ‘August 6’ by Tōge Sankichi and ‘To the Voiceless’ by Yamada Kazuko, highlight the immense losses suffered on that day and the lasting influence of the bombing.

Why do poets write about Hiroshima?

Poets from all walks of life have chosen to write about the tragedy of Hiroshima. Many of these are Japanese poets who lived through or were born around the time of the bombing. Their insights into how the bombing affected Japan are still of great importance today.

What kind of poems are about Hiroshima?

Poets have written all types of poems about Hiroshima. These include free verse contemporary poems, experimental modernist poems, and traditional pieces with full rhyme schemes and metrical patterns.

Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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