In continuation of our celebration of the theme From Asia with Love here at Gathering Books, I am sharing another poem by Li-Young Lee. In a foreword by Gerald Stern in Lee’s poetry collection, Rose, he wrote,

“What characterizes Le-Young Lee’s poetry is a certain humility, a kind of cunning, a love of plain speech, a search for wisdom and understanding—but more like a sad than a desperate search—a willingness to let the sublime enter his field of concentration… a pursuit of certain Chinese ideas, or Chinese memories, without any self-conscious ethnocentricity, and a moving personal search for redemption.”

I hope you find Lee’s words moving. Poetry Friday roundup is hosted today by the lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater from The Poem Farm.

Click on the image to be taken to the websource.
Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

MNEMONIC

I was tired. So I lay down.
My lids grew heavy. So I slept.
Slender memory, stay with me.

[…]

A serious man who devised complex systems of numbers and rhymes
to aid him in remembering, a man who forgot nothing, my father
would be ashamed of me.
Not because I’m forgetful,
but because there is no order
to my memory, a heap
of details, uncatalogued, illogical.
For instance:
God was lonely. So he made me.
My father loved me. So he spanked me.
It hurt him to do so. He did it daily.

The earth is flat. Those who fall off don’t return.
The earth is round. All things reveal themselves to men only gradually.

I won’t last. Memory is sweet.
Even when it’s painful, memory is sweet.

Once, I was cold. So my father took off his blue sweater.

Do memories haunt you?
What poem do you have for us today?

Fats is the Assistant Manager for Circulation Services at the Wayne County Public Library in Wooster, Ohio. She considers herself a reader of all sorts, although she needs to work on her non-fiction reading. Fats likes a good mystery but is not too fond of thrillers. She takes book hoarding seriously and enjoys collecting bookmarks and tote bags. When she is not reading, Fats likes to shop pet apparel for her cat Penny (who absolutely loathes it).

6 comments on “Poetry Friday: Mnemonic

  1. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    Like

  2. This poem deserves a careful reading! What an interesting and appropriate description of Lee’s style: “a willingness to let the sublime enter his field of concentration.”

    I especially liked:
    “The earth is flat. Those who fall off don’t return.
    The earth is round. All things reveal themselves to men only gradually.”

    Like

  3. amyludwigvanderwater

    I adore Li-Yount Lee. Thank you for this. “Humility” is the perfect word. Happy Poetry Saturday!

    Like

  4. maryleehahn

    You had me at “the art of memory.” Mine needs more art. I’m forgetful AND “there is no order
    to my memory, a heap
    of details, uncatalogued, illogical.”
    Gack.

    Like

  5. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Four Multicultural Picture Books and a New Tale from Team Almond-McKean |

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