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Rose by Li-Young Lee

Rose (1986)

by Li-Young Lee

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In the steamer is the trout
seasoned with slivers of ginger,
two sprigs of green onion, and sesame oil.
We shall eat it with rice for lunch,
brothers, sister, my mother who will
taste the sweetest meat of the head,
holding it between her fingers
deftly, the way my father did
weeks ago. Then he lay down
to sleep like a snow-covered road
winding through pines older than him,
without any travelers, and lonely for no one.

Li-Young Lee's poems are beautiful and meditative. His poems really capture the sublime characteristic of nature as well as the tenderness of moments between family members. Many of his poems are taken from the eyes of a child, reflecting on moments that have stayed clear in his mind for many years. An exquisite collection of memories and perfectly crafted words and meditations. ( )
  est-lm | May 3, 2014 |
At turns heartbreaking and at other moments humorous, Lee always presents his poems with lyrical and haunting detail, impressing upon readers the importance of a single given moment. I'd read many of these poems in the past (a few have been included in more than one anthology), but this was my first time reading the collection as a single long work. And, in the end, this is one of those collections that calls to be read as a whole. With cycles of references to flowers, to the power of memory, and to the simple sound and gift of rain, the poems come together with a larger power than any one of them holds alone. Yet, Lee's elegant style is translated as well into each single poem. Each is accessible, worthwhile, and memorable on its own. There is no filler here, and much to enjoy for both casual readers and long-time lovers of poetry alike. Absolutely, this is recommended, and of those poetry books that I'll pass on both to friends who haven't yet found Lee's work (rare as they may be), and to that reader who might just be considering a venture into pleasure-reading poetry. This full collection is one I'll return to. ( )
  whitewavedarling | May 19, 2013 |
Honestly, I expected to like this a lot more than I actually did. Some of the poems are amazing, but the majority of them felt cliche and a bit drab. Maybe I'll reread this later and see if I change my mind. ( )
  rmariem | Oct 23, 2009 |
This is Lee's first collection of poetry, which won the New York University's 1986 Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award. The poems are delicate and beautiful, yet powerful and deeply emotional, and use imagery to describe the love he has for his parents and his wife. A representative example is The Gift:

The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he'd removed
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from.

I can't remember the tale,
but I hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy's palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife's right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he's given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

Highly recommended. ( )
  kidzdoc | Aug 8, 2009 |
Two of my favorite poems reside in this book. The Gift and From Blossoms. But to be truthful, almost any poem from this book is beautiful and thought provoking. In my mind, this is Li-Young Lee's best (that I've read!). Get it! ( )
  Cygnus555 | Dec 20, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0918526531, Paperback)

Table of Contents

The Gift
The Weight Of Sweetness
From Blossoms
Dreaming Of Hair
Early In The Morning
Falling: The Code
My Indigo
Eating Alone

Always A Rose

Eating Together
I Ask My Mother To Sing
Ash, Snow, Or Moonlight
The Life
The Weepers
Rain Diary
My Sleeping Loved Ones
Between Seasons
Visions And Interpretations

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:43 -0400)

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