The poem, A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945 is penned down in the form of an entry in a journal by a doctor for keeping records. The entry gave the readers a vivid picture of how the people were taken aback when atomic bombs were dropped on their city of Hiroshima in 1945 during the Second World War.
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Vikram Seth’s poetic style has many features like the use of prose-pattern, epithets, images, wit, humor and irony. The poem is in a form of journal entry made by a Hibakusha (a Japanese word for a bomb survivor) on August 6, 1945. The use of this journal form for writing poetry is ingenious because this kind of poetry requires no rhyme pattern or other poetic devices. The style is colloquial, clipped. The poem has no rhyming scheme or stanzas, it is a continuous narration of what happened on a particular day.
In the beginning of the poem, one can see the account of the impact of the atomic bombs on the city. The poet also uses Hyperbole (exaggeration) for highlighting the current situation.
“The roof, the walls, and, as it seemed the world
Collapsed in timber and debris, dust swirled
An atmosphere of horror, fear and panic too is created all around the narrator and the narrator gives a dreadful account of it in the next few lines.
“It took some time for me to understand
The friction on their burns caused so much pain
They feared to chafe flesh against flesh again
Those who could, shuffled in blank parade.”
Vikram Seth has personified ‘loneliness’ to describe the helplessness of the survivors in A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945.
“What choice had we? A dreadful loneliness
Came over me when she had gone. My mind
Ran at high speed, my body crept behind.”
Lyrical in Spirit:
Lyric Poetry deals with the poet’s own feelings, his state of mind and perceptions. A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945 is a poem about the poet’s own sorrows, feelings. The poem expresses the personal torments and sufferings of the victims.
The poem is highly symbolic. The bombs that tore away the human beings of their clothes signifies that the whole of human race who suffered. Note the symbolism in the following lines,-
“……..I saw, dismayed,
A woman with a child stand in my path-
Both naked. Had they come back from the bath?
…………………………..and now the thought arose
That some strange thing had stripped us of our clothes.”
The common thing between all these people was that they were dumbfounded and silent. They were speechless. When someone is in deep sorrow he loses the power of speech, he becomes numb. It symbolizes that a powerful nation destroys the lives of the common people, they still remain silent.
“My legs gave way, I sat down the ground.
Thirst seized me, but no water could be found.
My breath was short but bit by bit my strength
Seemed to revive and I got up at length.”
The above line shows the indomitable spirit of the doctor, induced with determination that he regains strength finally. This symbolizes Japan, as one of the world leaders in today’s world.
Even during such a crisis and chaos the goodness in human nature is not lost. There is still hope for care and concern in the minds of the people. The doctor, though himself wounded, calls out for his wife, and even thinks of helping out his staff in his hospital. A soldier hands over a towel to the doctor to cover himself.
The main theme of A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945 is the destruction caused by the atomic bombs on Hiroshima. The poem depicts both mental and physical agony. The poet has described the gruesome reality of the first nuclear explosion and its power to destroy the whole human race. This bombing wiped out two cities and millions died. However, Japan endured the calamity, rose up, (bit by bit my strength/Seemed to revive) and rebuilt their shattered city and their world.
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