Those Winter Sundays:
This poem contains light sadness. In my imagination, the father works hard for poor salary to support the whole family. The speaker is a boy who finds out his father has to work on Sunday when he still lies in the warm bed in the early morning. His father cannot be in good mood. Therefore " the chronic angers of that house" means that his father's irascible tamper and cold atmosphere full of the house. The boy loves and admires his father, but he doesn't, maybe he is afraid, express his feelings, neither does his father. They have deep affection towards each other, but they don't speak up. The way his father shows his love is through the daily petty things. The affection is silent. Maybe the speaker didn't realize how great his father's love is until he grew up. Maybe the feeling was so ambiguous that he understood totally when he grew up. He knew his father's work was tough, but he didn't notice his father's hardship. I think the repeated "What did I know' shows his sorrow. He may regret not to have told his love to his father or his clumsy notice about his father's love. His father is serious and silent, but for sure his father loves him. The speaker just describes concrete things through all poem and point out his true feeling at the last two lines. Actually there is affection hidden. When reading out the poem, I was too dull to notice the connection. I found that the sound of the last word of every line is down. Could it involve the silent love between father and son?
I Ask My Mother to Sing:
I remember someone said, " A ballad can last forever." The easiest way to transmit a country's culture is through singing. I think that is why the mother and grandmother sing. They want to keep their easy-lost culture. The writer's family has been through disturbance and escaped to a foreign country. He is the second generation of overseas Chinese. The family doesn't want to lose their essence, so they sing. Their attachment toward motherland doesn't have to reveal through those concrete objects, such as Summer Palace or the great stone boat. I have never been there, either. Actually somehow I can understand the feeling of the writer. I feel the kids of this generation are losing our "Chinese" essence. Fewer and fewer people want to discover the treasure of Chinese culture. We consider it out of times. I can prove it for I am typing in English right now. We are an embarrassing generation because we can hardly find the cultural identity. Therefore I admire the attitude of the writer's family.
The rain is the symbol of foreign cultural incursion, falling onto half of the world. While they are Chinese waterlilies. It is hard to avoid from being filled, so they pull out when it occupies their life. Furthermore, waterlily is a symbol of decency and the symbol of gentleman with dignity in Chinese literature. I am not sure if this is the writer's original meaning, but I feel so. Why do they sing and cry? Singing is joyful. Although they know the homeland is in riot and they miss her, they don't want to lose the ability of laughing. Homesickness may be bitter, but they want to survive bravely.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers:
I think the writer wants to remind us the source of out culture. As the five ancient civilization were all built alone the big rivers, the writer points out these rivers and wants man not to forget his root, especially for his fellow countrymen. He is an African-American, and his motherland should be Africa. Negro is also an old race, and America is a salad bowl. While in 17th and 18th century, Africans were oppressed and didn't even have their own country. I think the writer wants to wake his fellow people to remember their blood. Therefore he points out the great rivers, like Euphrates in western Asia, Congo in Africa, and Nile where the Egyptian Civilization originated. The last one is Mississippi, which was important when the new continent was being developed. Furthermore, the meaning of Abraham Lincoln being mentioned is special and important, because he was the one who ended Civil War and protected Negro's right.