book The Freeing of the Dust

reviewed by Candace Moonshower

Published in Issue No. 19 ~ December, 1998

Many of Levertov’s poems are explicitly about her anti-American sentiments regarding the involvement of the United States in Vietnam. In “From a Plane,” the poet reflects on how Vietnam looks untouched if viewed from the air, “the great body / not torn apart, though raked and raked / by our claws-.” “The Distance” points to the differences between the comfortable lives of the anti-war protesters in America and the beautiful and brave struggle of those soldiers fighting for Ho Chi Minh. In “The Pilots,” a visit to American POWs ignites a conflict in the poet’s heart regarding their ignorance or knowledge of what they did with their killing bombs. The powerful “Fragrance of Life, Odor of Death” describes a Vietnam where death is everywhere but the odor is that of the “good smell / of life.” In America, where no bombs have ever landed, the poet relates that “everywhere, a faint seepage, / I smell death.”

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Candace Moonshower is an army brat who taught herself to type the summer she turned eight, knowing even then she would write. Now a graduate student at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, she studies English and writes both fiction and nonfiction. Candace's personal and ongoing work involves researching and writing about the cultural aftermath of the Vietnam War, especially with regard to the men and women that served and the families they left behind, in the hopes of promoting an understanding of our national consciousness before, during and since our involvement there.