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Song of Napalm: Poems by Bruce Weigl

Song of Napalm: Poems (edition 1994)

by Bruce Weigl, Robert Stone (Introduction)

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Title:Song of Napalm: Poems
Authors:Bruce Weigl
Other authors:Robert Stone (Introduction)
Info:Atlantic Monthly Press (1994), Paperback, 88 pages
Collections:Your library

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Song of Napalm: Poems by Bruce Weigl



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Bruce Weigl’s Song of Napalm is another collection of poems dealing with the impact of the Vietnam War. Robert Stone says in the introduction, “Bruce Weigl’s poetry is a refusal to forget. It is an angry assertion of the youth and life that was spent in Vietnam with such vast prodigality, as though youth and life were infinite. Through his honesty and toughmindedness, he undertakes the traditional duty of the poet: in the face of randomness and terror to subject things themselves to the power of art and thus bring them within the compass of moral comprehension.”

Weigl takes readers on a journey to Vietnam in the late 1960s and explores the anxiety he feels as a soldier in a strange nation. Each poem’s narrator carefully observes his surroundings, detailing the corner laundry, the hotel, the jungle, and his fellow soldiers.

“Who would’ve thought the world stops
turning in the war, the tropical heat like hate
and your platoon moves out without you,
your wet clothes piled
at the feet of the girl at the laundry,
beautiful with her facts.” (from “Girl at the Chu Lai Laundry,” page 4)

To read more of this review, go to: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2010/04/song-of-napalm-by-bruce-weigl.html ( )
  sagustocox | May 1, 2010 |
I started collecting volumes of poetry on the theme of war and combat and especially collections written by veterans of combat. Such "war poetry" is especially associated with the First World War and its poets of England, France, Germany, America, and others.

Much of this poetry before the First World War was focused upon the heroism of combatants and the glory of victory (or of bravery and endurance in defeat). This begins to dramatically change during the First World War as the tragedy and futility of what they saw and experienced led many poets to present a darker vision. By the time of the U.S. war in Vietnam, this darker vision predominated and this is what is presented here by Bruce Weigl, a veteran of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam (for which see "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young."

The poetry of Bruce Weigl in "Song of Napalm" includes many darker images reflecting his experiences in Vietnam. His words describe both seemingly ordinary moments of human life - love, sex, drinking, etc - but always against the background of the tragedy of the war in Vietnam. This background is especially strong in the darker images he presents of men in combat, in conflict, and in death.

I would recommend this collection to anyone interested, as I am, in the revelations of how combat effects soldiers, of how soldiers reflect upon their experiences, and how they choose to present that experience to others (or especially to themselves) while attempting to process and understand their experience of war. ( )
  RobertMosher | Jun 25, 2009 |
This poetry collection revolves around Weigl's experiences with the First Air Calvary Division during the Vietnam war. Although written many years after the fact there the author's remembrances have directness and clarity. Reliving these experiences has not been easy for Wiegl or as he told Charles Simic--that in Vietnam he lost his soul but found his voice. Weigl takes on what is painful to remember by looking it straight in the face. On the front blurb are these lines from his poem--The last lie:

Some guy in the miserable convoy
raised up in the back of our open truck
and threw a can of C rations at a child
who called into the rumble for food.
He didn't toss the can, he wound up and hung it
on the child's forehead and she was stunned
backwards into the dust of our trucks.

What makes this collection remarkable is that for the most part the rest of the book matches this kind of remembrance in the same clear-eyed tones mixing irony, sadness and confusion. His poems have a quality about them that though maybe not always being the stuff of nightmares--still seem full of the regret of many sleepless nights--keeping in mind it is that of a middle aged poet looking back at himself as a much younger man. Song of Napalm compares very favorably at least in some respects to Wilfred Owen's World War I poetry. I found much of this work a revelation. ( )
  lriley | Apr 7, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bruce Weiglprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stone, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0871134713, Paperback)

“Song of Napalm is more than a collection of beautifully wrought, heartwrenching, and often very funny poems. It’s a narrative, the story of an American innocent’s descent into hell and his excruciating return to life on the surface. Weigl may have written the best novel so far about the Vietnam War, and along the way a dozen truly memorable poems.” — Russell Banks

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:05 -0400)

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