Study Guide

What Were They Like? Summary

By Denise Levertov

What Were They Like? Summary

An unnamed speaker asks a series of questions about the people of Vietnam. This person wonders about their religious traditions, beliefs about nature, style of décor, poetry, and music. They ask these questions without waiting for an answer.

A second speaker addresses each question. The people have had their hearts "turned to stone" and cannot produce music, poetry, or ornaments anymore; any trace of these things has been lost. Their children, too, are all gone. Instead, the land is covered with ruins of their bones and ashes. The second speaker says that a bomb caused this destruction, and that it may have left a faint echo of their music, but that's it. Cheery, eh?

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