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Vietnam History in Bausch’s Poems “Uncle Herb” and “Unfriendlies” Essay

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Updated: Dec 8th, 2021

Victor H. Bausch has worked as a sergeant in Vietnam and now working as a librarian at a library in California. “Victor Bausch served in Vietnam from 1967–February 7, 1968” (Bausch, para.1). Many poems describing the Vietnam war have been credited in his account of poetry. ‘Uncle Herb’ and ‘Unfriendlies’ are two poems from his poetry.

‘Uncle Herb’ is a poem that gave an identification of the situation that prevailed during the Vietnam War. It is stated that the narrator’s uncle named Herb was a martyr of war about whom his mother always speaks with sorrowful words, but she could not keep even her son away from war. The fact about the national feel to serve the nation is exhibited, though there was no surety of a return back to home. He describes his uncle as a hero who was not able to see the face of a firstborn child. Here, the narrator signals the necessity of serving the nation which brings about many losses in one’s life. But no man can get exempted from serving because it was fought for their freedom which is clearly stated from the words that say about the narrator moving to Vietnam to serve his nation. They knew the impact of it, lust to serve cannot be wiped out. The part which describes his mother’s words about her small brother is a bit interesting because it clearly mentions the usual tint of a woman’s speech. In that, she says how Herb has reached martyrdom after escaping many critical situations before. The confusing phrase was the mention of the boxer’s stance of uncle Herb. The poem as a whole creates an atmosphere in the reader’s mind regarding the sorrowful acceptance of one’s duty. The narrator, at his camp, phones his mother with real terror in his mind and voice; mother reassures him of his safety though both know about the danger ahead. The exact sorrow prevailing in families during the wartime has been unveiled through the simple lines of Uncle Herb. In fact, loss and fear to lose due to Vietnam War is explicitly described in it.

The poem named ‘Unfriendlies’ describes the dangerous work carried out by the sergeants during Vietnam War. But unlike Uncle Herb, this is somewhat vague expression as whole. Though we get the total idea about the poem content, the meaning between words cannot be declared up to the real meaning. The easy duty mentioned in at the start of the poem is an opposing description of actual situation. Searching for mines to safeguard people following them, shows the risk they were at. The method they adopted to deactivating those detected mines. The actual jeopardy is seen when they are compelled to bribe for helping them. These explain the actual terror the sergeants might have faced at the time of Vietnam warfare. The poem critically explains the precarious condition with a touch of mystery. Later the poem goes through the scenario which describes how much tensed all people were to face a chance for death. All became ready to attack but later their commander states it something unreal just an imagination due to the depth of fright. This portion of the poem is actually unclear in many aspects. Though everyone has seen with their bare senses, they were being convinced against it. Entire poem goes through various terrific situations through which narrator and his companions were compelled to go through during Vietnam War; they know well about the menace ahead but convince themselves that everything is just fine and advances to explore risks.

Both the poems, ‘Uncle Herb’ and ‘Unfriendlies’, have succeeded in bringing about the real picture of circumstances during Vietnam War. No one likes to be in but for the sake of nation everyone are dutiful to face it. The poems take the reader to reach the Vietnam War, giving him a softer feel.

Reference

Bausch, H.V. (n.d.). Victor H. Bausch. 2010. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Vietnam History in Bausch’s Poems “Uncle Herb” and “Unfriendlies”." December 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/vietnam-history-in-bauschs-poems-uncle-herb-and-unfriendlies/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Vietnam History in Bausch’s Poems “Uncle Herb” and “Unfriendlies”." December 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/vietnam-history-in-bauschs-poems-uncle-herb-and-unfriendlies/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Vietnam History in Bausch’s Poems “Uncle Herb” and “Unfriendlies”'. 8 December.

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