Table of Contents I. Epistle The Gift Persimmons The Weight Of Sweetness From Blossoms Dreaming Of Hair Early In The Morning Water Falling: The Code Nocturne My Indigo Irises Eating Alone II. Always A Rose III. Eating Together I Ask My Mother To Sing Ash, Snow, Or Moonlight The Life The Weepers Braiding Rain Diary My Sleeping Loved Ones ...
Table of Contents I. Epistle The Gift Persimmons The Weight Of Sweetness From Blossoms Dreaming Of Hair Early In The Morning Water Falling: The Code Nocturne My Indigo Irises Eating Alone II. Always A Rose III. Eating Together I Ask My Mother To Sing Ash, Snow, Or Moonlight The Life The Weepers Braiding Rain Diary My Sleeping Loved Ones Mnemonic Between Seasons Visions And Interpretations
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Li-Young Lee's first book of poems swam against the current of modern American poetry in two ways: its Romantic extravagance of feeling, and the tender, loving father-son relationship at its heart. The first point is obvious, the second less so. In such poems as Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" or Robert Hayden's "These Winter Sundays," the father-son bond is riven with coldness or violence, however dancelike. In contrast, the father in Lee's poetry attains near-mythic status; he was a physician for Mao Tse-Tung, fled the anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia, and became a Presbyterian minister in a small Pennsylvania town.
In his poem, "Persimmons," the poet proceeds associatively by linking the title image with the immigrant's acquisition of new language and sounds, sensuous desire, ancestral identity and its concealment, loss, and as an iconic object redolent of deep emotion: "Finally understanding / he was going blind, / my father sat up all one night / waiting for a song, a ghost. / I gave him the persimmons, / swelled, heavy as sadness, / and sweet as love." In the end, what remains is memory: "Some things never leave a person: / scent of the hair of one you love, / the texture of persimmons, / in your palm, the ripe weight." Indeed, ripeness is all. Rose celebrates the flowering of a brilliant American poet.
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