A bombed-out John Lewis department store on Oxford Street in London.
An air marshal after a bombing.
I think this picture really gets to what H.D. was describing in “The Walls Do Not Fall.” In the literal sense, this photo shows that even though these building have been hollowed out the walls are still standing. H.D. wrote that “the tide is turning;/ it uncovers pebble and shells,/ beautiful yet static, empty.” I think that there is something beautiful to these pictures, but at the same time they are static; it seems like there’s no way that they can be associated with life ever again. I also think that these photos get to one of the deeper themes of “The Walls Do Not Fall,” the role of the survivor. At the beginning, H.D. says “Yet the frame held:/ we passed the flame: we wonder/ what saved us? what for?” I think that it’s interesting that H.D. questions what the impact of survival is in a world that’s completely destroyed. So much of what we learn about the Blitz in school is about the RAF and how the British kept their spirits up, but I think that this poem reveals the reality of the situation: would you want to survive something like that? Especially if you didn’t know how long it would last?
[Photo credits: ARTstor]