History and Memory: Denis Levatove

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What has Denise Levertov’s poem, “In Thai Binh (Peace) Province” clarify for you about history and memory. Levetov’s poem “In Thai Binh (Peace) Province” shows how sometimes the collective memory that is the history of a society is used by those within that society as a substitute for a lack of personal connection. This inevitably clouds not only the individual’s perception of the event but also hides the truth, and also becomes part of the collective memory. This perpetual motion of fallacies via ignorance is the basis of this historical record of Vietnam and was catalysed by the media of the time. Although media, especially visual media is considered tangible almost infallible history, Lervertov is adamant in revealing the bias that encompasses not only the viewer but also the composer. This bias, although an essential part of the historical record cannot capture the context within which is recorded or that of which it simply does not record. Lervertov opens our eyes to those other images of “peace within the long war” that the media of the rime chose to ignore and subsequently show that the collective memory that is history is only part of the wider picture. Before Lervertov can question the collective memory she must first recognise its merit and assure her audience, who is collectively American, that it is in fact the majority truth. To do this Lervertov comments on the atrocities of the war, of which the media has given social salience. The use of the elongated sentence that composes the first two stanzas is accompanied by the repetition of the high modality word bombed which as he sentence structure progresses expresses the extensive, excessive repeated damage of the war, and the apparent collateral damage it incurred. The commonality of these atrocities is highlighted in the second stanza, where the lack of personal description in the child’s identity is resemblant of the statistical approach to loss that is often explored in times where the personal...
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