Poetry on Family Relationships


Poster¡G Jenny Chang at 15:3:7 11/17/97 from nn60-170.dialup.seed.net.tw
RE Kate at 13:4:34 11/3/97 posted ¡uon-line journal, Chinese or English¡vSubject
I ASK MY MOTHER TO SING 
1. After knowing the hardship and turmoil they've gone through, it is understandable why both women cry when they sing of the memorable place in China and the feeling the rain gives them. It is like the pressure (filled with rain)and struggle they have to fight through. When I first read this poem, I don't know the meaning it tries to convey. But after I know of the background the singing, crying, rain and lilies all become quite clear in their meanings. 
2. The picnickers sit on the grass to enjoy the beautiful scenery. They would find the right spot with the optimum condition. But when the rain comes, they cannot enjoy themselves and have to find a hideout. In the same way, the family lived contentedly in China, but when oppression came, they (like the picnickers) also have to flee. 
3. The family flee from China to Indonesia, and later to the United States. It is as if after oppression they "overturn, spilling out" the pressure. But just after they find settlement, they "rock back, and fill with more" oppression. It is like a continuous effort to survive struggle. 
THOSE WINTER SUNDAYS 
1. I think the speaker is a boy, as he still needs to be called up by his father. I think he takes his father's love for granted and is ever sort of resentful and distanced from him because he never thanked his father for making the fire and he speaks indifferently to his father. 
2. Because the boy "fear" such "chronic angers", it is likely that he is afraid of his father because he is such a serious man, as is conveyed in "love's austere and lonely offices." 
3. By saying "what did I know," it is probably when he grew up and realized that in his youth, he did not appreciate the silent love of his father. His father may be a serious man who do not know how to express his feelings, yet he shows his love by doing things for the children. 
With words like "cracked", "ached", it conveys the hard toil of his father from labor, and "splintering, breaking" seems to convey that his bones is breaking because of his hard toil for the family. 
MY PAPA'S WALTZ 
1. The boy is very dependent and relies a lot on his father, and just like when they were waltzing, his father "held" him firmly. 
2. The father is a man who gets along well with his son. He is probably a laborer as one of his knuckles was battered and his "palm was caked by dirt". He is a very active and lively person who drinks whiskey and beat time on his son's head. 
I would say that their relationship is very close and intimate as they would "romp" until the pans slid from the shelf. So they must be having a lot of fun together. 
3. She can't do anything about them, like a kind of resignation. By using contenance instead of face, it shows more of her facial expression. Unlike his father, his mother may not like active, playful boys, thus she must have a lot to nag about the boy and their relationship wouldn't be that close as the father's. 
4. I think the rhythm suggest lightness in that it is short and quick. The lightness it conveys parallel the easy, free, lightness of the dancing. 
5. Here "caked" is a special usage and stressed word. The stress seems to emphasize and convey the rhythm of the beating and here "caked" is a strong beat. 
I SAW IN LOUISIANA A LIVE-OAK GROWING 
1. "Its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself." "it makes me think of manly love". From here the oak tree looks lusty and unbending to the environment reflects in himself his tendency towards homosexuality. Such fact makes him similar to the oak-tree. Yet although the oak tree looks lusty, it can stand to be alone, while the speaker could not and need a companion or a lover. 
We could find out the symbolic meaning through the poet's backgroundd, and his describing the oak tree as lusty and making him think of manly love, as oak trees are as tough as a man. 
2. He is expressing his lonesomeness like the oak tree standing alone, and his need for homsexual love and companionship. 
3. Because he is lonely and miss his male companions, he broke off a twig of the oak that is as rough as a man as a token that reminds him of manly love and his companions. 
AUNT JENIFFER'S TIGER 
1. Phrase such as "hard to pull", "massive weight" and "sits heavily" describe Jennifer as bound by a heavy chain to her marriage. It is probably a patriarchal society where the man is domineering, as she was being "mastered by" her husband which to her is "terrifying". 
2. She sew tigers on the acreen which suggest a feeling of power and energy which she is in lack of in her marriage. 
3. The tigers are lively (as they pranced), energetic, proud and unafraid. Like her husband who is probably a byrant in some ways to make her "terrified", they are proud and unafraid. And maybe in appearance Aunt Jennifer may be small and meek, but in her heart she is also proud and unaftaid like the tigers conveyed in her tapestries. 
1) This piem suggest that women are being oppressed in marriage and society. They are dominated by men. There are still many sexual in equality happening, maybe slightly different from the times of Aunt Jennifer, yet in another form.