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Song of Napalm by Bruce Weigl Research Papers

Research papers that explore Bruce Weigl's poem Song of Napalm may explore the themes of war or the atrocities of Vietnam. Custom writing allows you to dictate whatever the topic needs to be to our writers. Therefore, you tell us what you need explicated on Weigl's poetry and our writers will provide a custom research paper on that aspect of Song of Napalm.

Bruce Weigl creates poetry filled with lyrical images in an attempt to reconcile his rage, horror and bitterness at the atrocities he witnessed in the Vietnam War. The poem Song of Napalm, dedicated to his wife, explores the effect that these emotions are having on their post-war relationship.

Song of Napalm

Horses and the Song of Napalm

The first three lines evoke a peaceful, pastoral image of horses strolling away through a pasture in the calm following a rain-storm. Only the fact that they are walking away from the author and his wife appears slightly negative. However, in the next six lines, his alienation from the post-war world is made clear. They are separated from the peaceful world of the horses by “the black screen” of his horrible memories; these memories create “the distance” between him and his wife. He interprets the “mist kicked up around their hooves” as an illusion, although as they walk through the sodden grass, it is certainly a probable result in reality; what is illusory about it is the way it evokes his memories of the smoking mists of the napalmed village.

  • The horses themselves begin to seem unreal to him, merely facades of normality (“like cut-out horses”); by reiterating that they are moving away, he reinforces the idea that reality itself is moving beyond his grasp.
  • The pasture itself metamorphoses into the hallucinatory colors of a drug experience: the blue of smoke, the red of fire.
  • The trees’ branches appear like “barbed wire”, in spite of his wife’s reassurance that they “were only branches”.

Thus, in the first verse, a moment that could have created peace for him and intimacy between himself and his wife is distorted by his unresolved memories into an alienating moment of private horror.

The second stanza, written in conversational language, expresses the author’s attempt to put images of the war aside, to make them, like the horses, swing “finally away from me”. Only the repetition of the storm’s “pounding” makes it apparent to the reader that he will not be successful.

Imagery and The Song of Napalm

In the third stanza, the imagery of the first stanza returns, much more strongly. The branches are no longer “like barbed wire”; they “are wire”—the simile replaced by the more powerful metaphor. It is not the storm that is pounding, but the “mortar”. For the first time, the reader is given the image that the author has tried to put away from him: “the girl running from the village, napalm stuck to her dress”. This crucial image makes sense of all the others in the poem.

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