Shadow of the Atom

Man by prodigious labour
Relentless drive, unflagging grit
Harnessing tremendous forces
The mighty atom split!
From Mother Nature's heart was torn
One infinitesimal speck
A secret grasped by puny hands
That if unwisely used may wreck
The future hopes and plans of man
Created a living Frankenstein
To stalk and slay, and maim
And maybe finally destroy
The last of Adam's line!

This swift dynamic power
Held in fragile mortal hands;
This vanguard of potential giants
Innumerable as the sands
May hold Times guarded key
That locks the secret door
Of the mighty universe;
A door by human hands unlocked
That may well prove
A modern curse;
For man is only man
And probing where he cannot see
Gamble in the dark
And risks, perchance
His own futurity!

A fleeting glimpse
Of vast undreamed things
Quickens his feverish questings
And on soaring wings
His thoughts adventurously speed
To seek and grasp
To shape to his tremendous will
Those gigantic untapped forces
Of strange fantastic shape
That lure and would elude him still!

For man has seen the power
Of atomic force in war
The shape of things to come
Cast on Oriental shore!
Is Hiroshima a symbol?
A shadow already begun
That growing with the years
Will fall on every one?
Or will mankind appalled
By this devastating thing
Divert its power to projects
That in turn may bring
Those blessing that enrich
And eventually create
That hoped for new world order
Of which men dream and wait?

In the shadow of the Atom
Herald of a fateful age
Mankind awaits the grave decisions
Of those who hold the stage
With them rests the future
Of generations yet unborn
May wisdom, faith and brotherhood
Pilots tried and true
Stand aside and guide them
Through dangerous straits; and at the dawn
Of better days for all mankind
When shadows pass away
Man will reap the real harvest
When only Peace hold sway!

Whakatane March 19th 1947.

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