Name: Dana Tsai
( I ) I Ask My Mother to Sing
Some certain songs can bring people back to a certain part of the old memory, either of happiness or of sadness. When Li-Young Lee's mother and grandmother started to sing, all of them were brought back to the deepest memory of their home-Mainland China."I've never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,íKthe picnickers running away in the grassíKBut I love to hear it sungíK" Lee's parents ran away from their motherland for the rain of the political turmoil. Although not born in the native country, Lee still held great respect and expect to where the family had come from. There was still some "family memory" in his blood, something that shall never be forgotten.
There is always a sad story behind every case of immigration. Rain forced the picnickers to run away from where they loved. For most Chinese immigrants, they left the motherland out of political or economy difficulties. For Lee's family, their story is sadder. They moved from China to Indonesia, and then moved from Indonesia to United States. "íKthe waterlilies fill with rain until they overturn, spilling water into water, then rock back, and fill with more." Often Chinese immigrants suffer a lot from racial discriminations, which is particularly serious in Indonesia. It seemed that Lee's family couldn't find the root and settle down. Difficulties just like the rain kept coming and the family, even the whole Chinese immigrants, was as resilient as the waterlilies.
So the song will keep being sung; "Both women have begun to cry. But neither stops her song." For the song is the rope tightly attaches them to their motherland; through the song the memory is remained to be remembered. Tears are for the suffering and pains that immigrants have been through, and for the longing for the native country. But the singing will keep going on; tears can never stop it, not even the rain.
( II ) Those Winter Sundays
"What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?"
We seldom realize how much love that parents can give us until we grow up. Looking back, we suddenly realize how ignorant and inconsiderate we used to be. Then we speak with the tone as this poem, which is full of regret.
"Sundays too my father got up early/ and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,/ then with cracked hands that ached/ from labor in the weekday weather made/ banked fires blaze." This implies a family with poverty, for they had no heaters and had to rely on the father's working-to make banked fires blaze.
But "No one ever thanked him", and "spoke indifferently to him", for children easily take parents' love and care for granted. In the speaker's memory, the childhood was not very happy. "íKfearing the chronic angers of that house." The speaker's family was suffering poverty. And this made the house full of sadness and worries, for all the family's focus was put on the matter of survive. "The chronic angers" also implies that the parents might have quarrel very often. All these sad, "blueblack", and cold images made the speaker more ignorant to the father's affections towards his children.
However, when the speaker looks back at the childhood memory, the love of a father is revealed from a common routine-to get up in the early morning and drive out the cold of the house even on winter Sundays and polished the speaker's good shoes. The father just did the daily works, but what else could be better to show a father's love?