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An Explication on “I Ask My Mother How to Sing”

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    In Li-Young Lee’s, “I Ask My Mother to Sing,” four main stanzas are found; they are elaborated with memory, joyfulness, grief, and pleasant remembrances. The speaker implies tones of nostalgia as he remembers his father. The title “I Ask My Mother to Sing” is clearly a song that the speaker begs for his mother to sing and the happiness of that songs also make the speaker’s grandmother to sing along. The most important part is what the song is about, this is implied throughout the entire poem in detail.

    The first stanza is about what happens when he asks his mother to sing for him; it shows two different generations that were born in China. The speaker also mentions his father; he conveys that he wishes his father would be sharing that moment when his mother and grandmother were singing. In a way he feels, like he wants all his family to be together again and share quality time with his family. The second stanza is referring to places that allows the reader to become aware that the speaker is talking about China; he mentions all this different places that are China’s cons, where the speaker has never been in, but he wishes he could have been to all this places were once his parents lived or visited.

    The third stanza, line 9 says “But I love to hear sung”, it means that although the speaker has never been in the land of his ancestors; he loves to hear it through songs. This expression makes the nostalgia the speaker feels so special, because the speaker is not really yearning something from his past ; nor places he has been before; he just feels like s something that is in his blood ; which is his Chinese backgrounds. This stanza is really special, because it entertains the reader it makes us move and hear the waterlilies “They overturn, spilling water into water, then rock back; and fill out with more”. Therefore this stanza is kinesthetic and appeals the reader’s hearing sense. The forth stanza is the shortest, but it is also the saddest. Line 13 and 14 make us think that both mothere and grandmother represent waterlilies.

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