Subject I never asked my mom to sing..
Posted by Sherry
Posted on Wed Nov 4 17:02:56 1998
From IP  

It is so true,that reading poem make oneself so weak yet passionate.As I've read the poem "I Ask My Mother to Sing",I began to feel so fragile,yet full of emotional poundings of my heart are about to break out of my soul.
As line one goes on like this:
She begins,and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
It was through the songs that enabled their soul to go back to their hometown,to the memory of their wondrous childhood, to where they were supposed to be settled in.The act of mother and daughter joining to sing feels like the hearts of Chinese people are stuck together,tightly,forever and wherever they are.And why would the author use "sing like young girls"? When we're young,everything seemed merrier,more hopeful,colorful.It's not only when the grandmother was young, or the mother was young, but also the author was much younger.The first two lines had a strong connection with the next two lines:
If my father were alive,he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
These next two lines suggesting that his father had passed away,but there are implies of the dying away of the good old days,when all the family were together;and with a deeper meaning behind this,the lost of a member in a family could mean the lost of connection with the country,in here, referring to China.
However,the poet said of his father"...and sway like a boat".When playing accordion,our physical motions may swing as we perform a song with the instrument.This could be one of the explanations the poet tries to put in a funny way.Still,I feel that there is something behind this phrase.
They were a Chinese family, but they fled to Indonesia on political reasons;later on,his father was captivated prisoner under Suharto's autocratic ruling.After this depressing event,they went to the U.S.They have been traveling a lot, but none of these travelings were done out of their will,they tried so hard to get just a peaceful place to stay,to set their foot on the land.Yet it cost them so much:staying away from their beloved homeland.Since they have made so much unwilling travelins,could it be that his father was like a boat that kept on swaying his family to whatever place they might go?It seems that the poet had turned his father into a symbol of a never-ending swaying boat which travelled incessantly.
And the song begins.Actually,it is more like a soliloquy of the poet than the song itself.It clearly points out the poet's inner voice:Peking,the Summer Palace,the great Stone Boat,Kuen Ming Lake,the best representatives of China whenever we think of this country,at least this is what I think of.I suppose that these places are those places are the ones that make the Chinese proud of,now that the poet is using them, wouldn't it reveal a tone of sorrow,and a sense of lost,although he never really was in touch with the country.Well,he did reveal this feeling for his mother and grandmother,who did have many inseperable connections with China,with the place that they love as much as they hate,for they had to leave out of political reasons.
Now here comes my favorite part,the third stanza.
But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they oveturn,spilling water into water,
then rock back,and fill with more.
The poet is talking of his own feelings toward an unknown place,where he was supposed to fit in.Through the singing of his mother and grandma,perhaps its not only the singing, but also the storytelling, or simply anything that had to do with China,their root.The poet had ambiguos feelings toward China,and confusing feelings about his identity , yet he certainly showed some kind of love to this place which he had never been.See how the poet compared his own feeling with the filling waterlilies,which is almost the plant that only grow in China.And the rain in here seems like tears from his heart,falling unconsciously yet knowing that these are for the cause of China.These still rock back,interminably,implying that through all his life,he will carry this brand of memory,wherever he sets his foot on.
Finally,his mother and grandma began to cry,but they'll always set their heart on the land of their memory,which is just what the poet said:"But neither stops her song."

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