I Ask My Mother To Sing (Li-Young Lee)

She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
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I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.
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But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.
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Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.
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Li-Young Lee
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I’ve been reading the poetry of Li-Young Lee recently.  There is something truly beautiful about his writing.  Even though Li-Young Lee is a well known poet in America, I’ve not heard of his name or writing before.  While reading his poetry it spoke to me of an experienced poet, one who considers carefully about what he wants to convey in a deeply literary sense, but still manages to create poems anyone can relate to.  He writes a lot of his childhood and family which is a subject I’m often drawn to write about myself.
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After reading I Ask My Mother To Sing it reminded me of the water lily I captured in Plantation Garden, Norwich… I thought they would go well together.  I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I did.
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If you would like to read more of Li-Young Lee’s poetry you can find a selection at the Poetry Foundation.
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While looking up who this wonderful poet was I found an old video on You Tube where he reads some of his poems and talks a little about the background of his family and where he was born in Indonesia.

If you enjoyed this video you may also like this one too, where he reads another selection of his poetry at a public event at The University Of California.  If you’ve not heard of Li-Young Lee, the introductory is well worth a listen.

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