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Analysis and comments on A Story by Li-Young Lee

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Comment 1 of 86, added on April 22nd, 2009 at 8:37 AM.

A Great Story

Poetry is good but good poetry is great. Good poetry should make an impact
in the reader’s life and evoke feelings seldom provoked while reading. The
poem could teach, inspire, bring back memories, and/ or give sentiment to
the reader in a way. The poet could accomplish this in many ways such as
flow, imagery, logic, and connection. Using a poem as an example, Li-Young
Lee in “A Story” demonstrates the effectiveness with which he executes
these fundamental components. The poem elaborates on a human connection
that fails, yet the failure was predictable and extenuated by time. The
literal story is of a son who is subject to the influences of the father
and when the father does not live up to his responsibilities the son must
make a choice to move on. This is a great poem because the sentiment that
either connects with someone who had a father that did not create a
positive environment or someone who has pity for parentified children.
Also, the poem makes sense and connects to deeper emotions in the reader
but also the realist way in which he writes and in a conversational manner
portrays his inner self on paper. The flow and reasonability of the poem
elevates the quality of the poem and makes it easy to read, yet attractive
and interesting to peruse. Also, the powerful sentiment relays a message of
awareness that could challenge readers to relate the poem to their own
A more in-depth look at the poem reveals little, yet a linear composition
of simple words that describe a scene has a complex convoluted message. The
message is deemed as convoluted because, even though it is written about a
father who has a lazy inept demeanor, the readers are left without
direction as to what role or angle they are looking in at this scene. Is
Lee retelling a personal experience? Is it a metaphor for a greater problem
Lee had (such as the appreciation of time and connections)? Or is he
raising a point out of frustration with the world and tries to awake people
to their degrading subconscious state which causes this type of stupidity
that pushes younger generations away?
The final passage is really the only place where Lee opens up and shows a
little bias. As he says that this situation “is an emotional rather than
logical equation.” And that it is “earthly” not “heavenly,” which shows the
realism of these events and tragic fate of the world’s children. Then the
statement that the boy’s requests and fathers love adds to nothing puts
stress on the father’s role as he is the one who has power to make actions
become possible (in this case the action is story telling). The depressing
generalized truth that the father in incapable of understanding a child is
emphasized here. Yet the question of who is Lee trying to make a point to
comes up. Does he want to express himself in a private poem? Does he want
the readers to take the job of parenting in a more serious light? Does he
try to attack males and their general mentality? The questions are the
challenge in this simple poem as the answers are many and of a large
For the intellectual reader, the challenge and mystery of Lee is
surprising and magnificent. A word the might have been overlooked as father
(papa) turned out to add a whole new dimension to the story. “Baba” is a
technical word that translates to “honorific” always given to a father or
grandfather. It is only found in the Asian South Eats and connects to the
Chinese idea of filial piety (obeying elders). Lee, with his interesting
history and Chinese and Indonesian background, first shows his connection
and desire to connect to his past (roots), yet he also conflicts himself as
he basically describes a boy who leaves his useless father yet still
maintains that ingrained and intrinsic sense of loyalty and respect no
matter the circumstances. This adds the challenging question of why does
the boy acts this way?
Overall, the story of a father who cannot tell stories (irony) packs a lot
and grabs hold of a reader’s attention and connects in different ways to
different people. This is good poetry because it turns life as everyone
sees it and transforms a simple tale as it is passed through a medium (the
writers mind).

Marc Goodman from United States

This poem has been commented on more than 10 times. Click below to see the other comments.
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Information about A Story

Poet: Li-Young Lee
Poem: A Story
Volume: The City In Which I Love You
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 1741 times
Poem of the Day: Jun 5 2010

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