RSS Feed

Pearl Harbor: A Poem of Reflection

Joan was a poet as well as a diarist.  Two days after Pearl Harbor was bombed, Joan wrote this poem at age 18. She loved Homer and the Iliad, and frequently saw the political events around her in terms of the history of the past, particularly the destruction of Troy.

The USS West Virginia burns and sinks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. (Handout, Reuters).

The USS West Virginia burns and sinks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. (Handout, Reuters). From the Chicago Tribune.

Dec 9 – 1941[1]

Now it is come we are as calm as we have never been

We drink our coffee with still hands

And with grave eyes ask what is trump

Or whose lead now and carefully repair our rouge.

And read the Tribune and Thomas Aquinas

With equal imperturbability.

Once we were shifted by the sound of words

By great black headlines, by the screaming boy.

 

Now we are calm as we were calm in Troy

We are as silly as we ever were

But now our silliness is bravery

We are so shallow that the dying of a world

Cannot break through our consciousness

Or are so deep that it cannot.

 

That which we never quite believed has happened

And we touch inanely hands that never reach

And lie down to die with dignity.      

 

We are as calm as we were calm in Troy.

 

[1] Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941; the United States officially declares war on Japan December 8 and on Germany and Italy on December 11.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: