“With Declension in the Village of Chung Luong, Bruce Weigl achieves the shriven lyric, writing under the prospect of eternal armaments darkening the heavens, as Ingeborg Bachmann foretold. In this Weigl is among few poets: writing his way not only back from war, from which one doesn’t ever quite return, but forth into the horror and stillness of its aftermath, carrying his dead and the fallen of the other side… finding grace among their survivors and descendents. With this book, he also returns from his own near-death, tearing from his language all but what is essential… true things about who we were and who we appear still to be in this faithless now. This is a deeply spiritual book, overseen by the guardians of wandering beings, by which we know it to be genuine, necessary and useful in lighting our way.” —Carolyn Forché
Say River. Say bloody current. Say not enough rice.
Say mother and father. Say village bell calling.
Say village drum calling. Say music through the trees
from someone’s lonely radio. Say mango
sliced into the woman’s open hands.
Say rice, steaming just in time. Say paths
worn by the naked feet of lovers. Say lovers
who must hide in the mango groves,
even to say good-bye.
“Declension in the Village of Chung Luong is a work of brilliant economy and focus, of grace and understanding and beauty… One of the purposes of poetry and art is to restore the spirits that have been displaced by the world’s brutishness. Another is to give insight and pleasure. Bruce Weigl offers us both and more in good measure.” —The Journal
“Declension in the Village of Chung Luong should cement Weigl’s reputation—if it hasn’t been cemented already—as the most important American poet of the Vietnam War era… Ultimately, Declension in the Village of Chung Luong is a celebration of the power that speech has over silence and of the solace and strength that urgent, honest, and carefully crafted writing can still offer us. Throughout these fifty-seven attentive and fierce new poems, Bruce Weigl seeks and probes, accuses and comforts, forgives and blames. In spite of the atrocities he has witnessed, Weigl clearly still believes in ideals such as beauty and honor and love. To continue experiencing the glory of such things, to continue to live fully, Weigl knows that he must leave himself open to more pain and disappointment. His doing so has led to a wise and beautiful book that deserves consideration for all of this year’s top poetry prizes.” —Poet Lore
“… throughout the course of his career, Weigl’s work has been rock solid, but his new book is perhaps his best and certainly his most daring. Beneath the mix of reverie and rawness, there is a true vulnerability rarely achieved in American poetry today. It’s the vulnerability of a soul hoping for harmony with his universe not by means of force or even search, but through an unflinching listening to himself. The end result is a book of poems that somehow manages to seem rugged and sturdy, yet extraordinarily delicate. Not unlike the soul itself.” —Review Revue