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Our world decreed
That we should meet
As enemies;
Without a common tongue;
But, prompted by
An even greater power,
Our hearts conversed
And softly spoke of peace.
Dear God,
Who Brothers made of us,
Touch all men’s souls
So Mankind may be thus!

— Bill Norways

Bill Norways, a British prisoner in the Kranji camp in Singapore during World War II, wrote this poem for Kameo Yamanaka, his former Japanese prison guard, in the 1980s. After the war, Norways and Yamanaka began a friendship-via-correspondence, exchanging letters for more than 30 years.

[Research note: “Families of British Prisoner and Japanese guard united by poem 70 years on,” Guardian, 16 August 2015].

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