Merton's anti-poems are characterised by the conscious and ironic use of the debased but now-commonplace language that masks the horror of genocide.
In his essay War and the Crisis of Language, Merton wrote: "Poets are perhaps the ones who, at the present moment, are most sensitive to the sickness of language - a sickness that, infecting all literature with nausea, prompts us not so much to declare war on conventional language as simply to pick up and examine closely a few chosen pieces of linguistic garbage."
Original Child Bomb was first published in his friend Robert Lax's magazine "Pax" in 1961, but was soon picked up by "New Directions" and re-published a year later in 1962, thereby reaching a far wider audience.
Sentimental Journey by Les Brown with Doris Day (1945)
Hell, Fire and Damnation by Jocelyn Pook from "Untold Things" Real World Records, 2001
Only the Devil Laughed by Hildegard von Bingen. Performers: Catherine King, Emily Van Evera and Sister Germaine Fritz from "Vision. The Music of Hildegard von Bingen" Angel Records, 1994
Vincent Di Stefano
Original Child Bomb can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 audio file is available for download here, and both CD quality and LoFi mp3 files are available for download here.
"Original Child Bomb" was recorded and produced collaboratively by vincentd of Integral Reflections and chazk of Virtual Renderings.
ORIGINAL CHILD BOMB
About one hour after Mr. Truman became President, his aides told him about a new bomb which was being developed by atomic scientists. They called it the “atomic bomb.” They said scientists had been working on it for six years and that it had so far cost two billion dollars. They added that its power was equal to that of twenty thousand tons of TNT. A single bomb could destroy a city. One of those present added, in a reverent tone, that the new explosive might eventually destroy the whole world. But Admiral Leahy told the President the bomb would never work.
|Trinity, Alamogordo 1945|
|Assembly of Little Boy, Tinian 1945|
|Hiroshima, mid-August 1945|
|Nagasaki, mid-August 1945|