In 1945 the second and larger of the two American atomic bombs was dropped on Nagasaki. It exploded directly over Japan’s largest Catholic Cathedral, Urakami Cathedral, almost obliterating it. I would like you to write a poem on the ruins as pictured, concentrating on the fact that this small part defiantly survived the largest explosion ever caused by mankind, rather than on what didn’t survive, and the devastation.
The poem should be entitled “Somewhere in the Flames”.


The Christians came out of hiding
to build a church in Nagasaki
in eighteen seventy three;
a brick and mortar monument
against future persecution.

For more than forty years they built,
Father Francine first; then others,
sixty-four-foot front spires proudly
proclaiming their catholic right
to worship their God.

In nineteen forty five
civilized men threw a Fat Man from the sky
and somewhere in the flames of destruction,
the Angelus bell tolled in protest;
a triumphal refusal to stay silent.

Notes: perhaps too much research is necessary to understand the poem and I am not really happy with the outcome, but it was an interesting assignment.

A lengthy footnote would be necessary to understand the opening stanza and the history of the ‘hidden Christians’ who suffered many years of persecution before being allowed to openly practice their faith.


The Fat Man referred to in the second stanza was the United Sates codename for the plutonium implosion-type device dropped on Nagasaki.


I have deliberately used words instead of numbers for the years.

The poem is perhaps not as relevant to the picture as the assigner would have liked.  Some license may be allowed though; Statues and artifacts damaged in the bombing, including a French Angelus bell, are now displayed on the grounds. The nearby Peace Park contains remnants of the original cathedral’s walls. What remained of the cathedral is now on display in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. slpmartin says:

    The comments were necessary for understanding the full meaning of the poem. Thanks for providing them…cheers!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I felt it was not a successful poem, but I wanted to archive it here anyway. It may be a useful tool for a history teacher to use as an introduction to a lesson about the event?

  2. Count Czardas says:

    Gosh I had forgotten about this, I need to go back and finish what I started when I asked for this poem. Cheers.

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