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Song of Napalm: Poems Paperback – January 21, 1994

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Stone is the acclaimed author of seven novels, including A Hall of Mirrors (winner of the National Book Award), A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. His short-story collection, Bear and His Daughter, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Stone lives with his wife in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (January 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871134713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871134714
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Annand on May 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Bruce Weigl is my second-favorite Vietnam poet next to Will Ehrhart. I hate to put it that way, but I hope Weigl is not offended and takes it as a compliment.
Song of Napalm has some previous poetry, but that is okay.
"Mercy" speaks to me as a Vietnam veteran. When I got back from Vietnam I was actually refused a part-time job stripping shingles from a roof. The only job I got--and I had to argue for that one--at the time was pumping gas. At least I went to college and got a master's, but I do feel sorry for those who never had a chance. That is why I also ask for mercy, but never saw it coming my way.
"Song for the Lost Private" is another highly personal poem (what else is poetry). Those who never lost a friend over there can never understand our level of frustration. Weigl certainly gives you a good idea, though with "you didn't show/so I drank myself into a filthy room with a bar girl/who had terrible scars."
"On the Anniversary of her Grace" is an outstanding poem regarding the connection (or disconnection) with our time in Vietnam and how it intrudes on life today. "Inside me the war had eaten a hole. I could not touch anyone. The wind blew through me to the green place/where they still fell in their blood." Speaking of attempts to love again, he ends the poem with "but I could not open my arms to her/that first night of forgiveness." And, like just who are we going to forgive, also crosses my mind?
"Elegy," appropriately, is the final poem in this slim book, which needs to be savored in small doses. "Into the black understanding they marched/until the angels came/calling their names/until they rose, one by one from the blood." It ends with "Some of them died. Some of them were not allowed to." I can't think of a more proper way to end a book on Vietnam.
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Format: Paperback
bruce weigl's poetrey in song of napalm really knocked me out...the title poem...disturbing and mournful is moving--"and not your good love"...
weigl writes realistic yet euphonic poetry--as it should be...in his eyes grit glints like diamond kisses... bruce weigl is a contemporary master...his voice, tender sardonic urgent earnest weary unbroken,calls to "ourselves, which are holy."
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Format: Paperback
Here is a poet with something truly meaningful to say, and he keeps saying it despite some people's objections that it's time to put "the past" behind. Weigl knows better. This collection of poetry has not lost its urgency and immediacy throughout the years. "The past" is very much alive in Iraq today. Weigl's distinctive voice takes us through the Vietnam War ordeal (and the daily reality after the return to the U.S.) from an American soldier's point of view. It is written with terrifying precision. As a poet, Weigl never leads the reader or tries to impress with overly dramatic images. He does not have to - the combination of his first-hand experience in Vietnam and the superb quality of his verse creates a vivid, lasting impact. It is impossible to remain untouched and indifferent after reading " still I close my eyes and see the girl / running from her village, napalm / stuck to her dress like jelly, / her hands reaching for the no one / who waits in waves of heat before her" (Song of Napalm, p. 33). The theme of innocent children affected by the war repeats in other poems, incl. "The Last Lie" (p. 18) where a Vietnamese girl reacts with disarming happiness and gratitude after being hit in the head with a can of C rations by an American soldier: "I could still see her when she rose, / waving one hand across her swollen, bleeding head, / wildly swinging her other hand / at the children who mobbed her, / who tried to take her food.... She laughed / as if she thought it were a joke / and the guy with me laughed / and fingered the edge of another can / like it was the seam of a baseball / until his rage ripped / again into the faces of children / who called to us for food." Weigl's speaker often describes dramatic events in an understated language - the result is gripping, meaningful poetry.Read more ›
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By Bryon Mondok on December 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this and sent it straight to my father, a veteran of the insanity in Viet Nam. Weigl takes you there and makes you feel the stench, the stickiness, and the fear. War sucks.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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