Cecil Day Lewis, 'Bombers' (1938):
Through the vague morning, the heart preoccupied,
A deep in air buried grain of sound
Starts and grows, as yet unwarning --
The tremor of baited deepsea line.
Swells the seed, and now tight sound-buds
Vibrate, upholding their paean flowers
To the sun. There are bees in sky-bells droning,
Flares of crimson at the heart unfold.
Children look up, and the elms spring-garlanded
Tossing their heads and marked for the axe.
Gallant or woebegone, alike unlucky --
Earth shakes beneath us: we imagine loss.
Black as vermin, crawling in echelon
Beneath the cloud-floor, the bombers come:
The heavy angels, carrying harm in
Their wombs that ache to be rid of death.
This is the seed that grows for ruin,
The iron-embryo conceived in fear.
Soon or late its need must be answered
In fear delivered and screeching fire.
Choose between your child and this fatal embryo.
Shall your guilt bear arms, and the children you want
Be condemned to die by the powers you paid for
And haunt the houses you never built?
Stephen Spender, 'Responsibility: the pilots who destroyed Germany in the spring of 1945' (1947):
I stood on a roof top and they wove their cage
Their murmuring throbbing cage, in the air of blue crystal.
I saw them gleam above the town like diamond bolts
Conjoining invisible struts of wire,
Carrying through the sky their geometric cage
Woven by senses delicate as a shoal of flashing fish.
They went. They left a silence in our streets below
Which boys gone to schoolroom leave in their playground.
A silence of asphalt, of privet hedge, of staring wall.
In the glass emptied sky their diamonds had scratched
Long curving finest whitest lines.
These the day soon melted into satin ribbons
Falling over heaven's terraces near the golden sun.
Oh that April morning they carried my will
Exalted expanding singing in their aeriel cage.
They carried my will. They dropped it on a German town.
My will expanded and tall buildings fell down.
Then, when the ribbons faded and the sky forgot,
And April was concerned with building nests and being hot
I began to remember the lost names and faces.
Now I tie the ribbons torn down from those terraces
Around the most hidden image in my lines,
And my life, which never paid the price of their wounds,
Turns thoughts over and over like a propellor
Assumes their guilt, honours, repents, prays for them.