Jan 19, 2010

This Hour and What Is Dead by Li-Young Lee : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.


This Hour and What Is Dead by Li-Young Lee : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

I've never had a brother, so I guess I keep coming back to this poem for other reasons.

Of course, it's another father poem as well as a brother poem. And here's the other side of that coin:

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor | My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke

I also don't know why the Wood Stork (left) seems like a relevant photo. Maybe I can imagine him as the shape of ghostly noise overhead, yet he'll stand/sit there in silence for a long, long time, drying his wings, like the anhinga.

* *

8 comments:

altadenahiker said...

I really loved the first five lines, and then, after that, it just seemed like another poem.

Brenda's Arizona said...

What is Li Young Lee saying? Is your brother dead? Or going to die??? And his father... I am frightened reading this poem. I can't read thru the imagery.

On the other hand, I always loved My Father's Waltz. I thought it was written for me. My dad used to dance with me all around the kitchen table. He'd let me stand on the top of his shoes while he took big big steps - one, two, three, four - one, two, three, four. Except I'd keep his scent of Old Spice in my hair and cheek!

BANJO52 said...

AH, interesting. I like the first 5, but it’s the last 5 lines that grab me.

I’ve always found the train of thought and emotion and philosophizing—if that’s the word—a bit of a bumpy ride. But that’s the way Lee and some other poets work, more elliptical than most, trying, I think, to convey the ENTIRE nature of the experience, whether or not it’s logical. If the parts hang together, it can be by a thin thread.

I’ve almost given up on this poem a few times, but it really does keep calling me back every once in awhile. Also, somebody referred to it the other day, in my not-Banjo life.

BANJO52 said...

Brenda, I think it's frightening, too.
In addition to all the death references, there is that train of thought (wrong word?). It can be a little scary when I can't follow it and a little scary when I can.

I think the brother is dead, which leads to thoughts of the father and journeys (surely, death that has happened or is imminent). And from there to the interesting!! idea of the helpless dead vs. an old furnace of power in God. From there to anger at God seems a short step.

I'm not sure I've ever heard of anyone's not liking the Roethke, sore ear, drunk dad and all.

altadenahiker said...

Yes, I too thought brother dead and unable to rest, or poet unable to rest with thoughts of brother.

Paula said...

Anhingas are very odd birds, swimming the way they do with their bodies submerged. I can't imagine they're very tasty, probably oily. The wood storks are rock stars in the avian world so I think they're just showing off, showing their plumage off to best advantage which I appreciate.

The first poem seems to be a dream piece, so many emotions and images in juxtaposition to each other. He seems to be in some pain, caught between family members inhabiting both heaven and earth. The second poem is something I can relate to, very sensory oriented, I felt transported. Today, I think most children relate to their parents in a more visual sense.

BANJO52 said...

Paula, so kids today see their parents more than they play with them or otherwise feel physical contact? Interesting.

"This Hour" as a dream piece--that would help to explain any gaps or leaps in the speaker's consciousness. Right?

Wood Stork as rock star--cool. You sound as if you know your birds.

Paula said...

It struck me as a dream piece, but then, I have a sore throat and wine is my antidote. Maybe I was dreaming myself but you're right, there are a lot of gaps. And maybe we're meant to read poetry in an altered consciousness.
It's hard to say about kids today. They're different, in many ways they're more connected and forgiving of each other and there's a lot of hugging that goes on between people today that I don't remember when I was growing up. I just think that there's also more emphasis on the visual. It will be interesting what they have to say in their poetry in 10 or 15 years when they feel the need to reminisce.

Lovers' Lane