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(New Poets of America)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  2,860 ratings  ·  168 reviews
In this outstanding first book of poems, Lee is unafraid to show emotion, especially when writing about his father or his wife. "But there is wisdom/ in the hour in which a boy/ sits in his room listening," says the first poem, and Lee's silent willingness to step outside himself imbues Rose with a rare sensitivity. The images Lee finds, such as the rose and the apple, are ...more
Paperback, 71 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by BOA Editions Ltd. (first published September 1st 1986)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  2,860 ratings  ·  168 reviews

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Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, recs, 2020
A sensitive and spare debut collection of poems about the passing of time, family ties, and immigration. Many quietly reflect on the relationship between the poet and his father, who emigrated from China to America with the rest of the family when Lee was a child. Each word feels chosen with painstaking care, and the poetry's as swift as it is arresting. ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have never read a more beautiful description of the bond between a father and son - truly beautiful and full of tender memories.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to poetry, some like it simple. Some of us like to read nature poetry, too, even though it is somewhat out of style in these politically-inspired times that have little patience for such ordinary rhythms of life.

Li-Young Lee overlaps nature with family. Sadness. Love. How opposites keep and comfort each other. His is a plain style, so if solving the mystery is your thing when reading poetry, you can take a pass on this collection.

For a representative piece from the book, you can j
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I don't know why I love this poem so much - but I do - over and over again.

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the ski
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure anyone does it better. Poetry as it ought to be. Heartbreaking, beautiful, lyric, narrative, accessible, emotive, evocative, experiential--excellent poetry. That's all. ...more
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was almost 4 stars, but there were six poems that I absolutely fell in love with. Definitely one of my new favorite poets.
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
i have read and reread the poems in this book so many times.

i first encountered lee at the geraldine dodge poetry festical back in 94. i randomly decided to attend his seminar and his readings really made an impression on me.

here are a few things i remember about what he said about his process of writing. (i am heavily paraphrasing due to my terrible memory.)

"Language often fails to represent what you're trying to say. Instead, it outlines the boundary of the void, the thought, which you're tr
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lee’s poems are extraordinary in the way that they blend the modern English and classical Chinese poetic styles, with a bit of whimsy in between, filled with memories and sprinkled with illusions.

Persimmons: intersects several childhood persimmon anecdotes, a moving portrayal of how family and culture shape us.
Falling: The Code: evokes so much sadness through describing the sound of apple falling.
The Life: meditates on father-son and son-father relationships with inventive imagery.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: um. Yep.
Shelves: poetry
After re-reading this book recently, I've decided to bump my rating from a 3.75 to a solid 4.0. I like Lee's plain use of language. I even like the sentimentality. Sometimes tacky works. Also cool is the subtle infusion of Asian culture without relying on it for substance. Lately strained "cultural" literature, knee-deep with political agendas and awash with "serious" social taboos, unrest and the muck has given me gas. Sometimes simple whole-grain words (albeit cheesy) for whole-grain themes ar ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I recently came across Li-Young Lee's The city in which I love you, and it made me want to read all of his poetry. And hence, this book.

I loved loved loved it. I loved so much of it. All of it.

The poem that I loved the most: After Rose and Ash, Snow, or Moonlight.

Joshua Henreckson
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Immediately one of my favorite books. I had the opportunity to hear the author speak and give a reading at a conference in Indiana a few years ago and I was struck by his quiet charisma, attention to both the mundane and sublime, and sheer emotional honesty and tenderness. All those qualities come across strongly in Rose. There’s a strong sense of theme and memory running through the poems in this collections, and they’re all the stronger for it. It’s nearly impossible for me to pick out my favo ...more
Celia Buell
I had honestly hoped I would like this more than I did.

The first two sections were, in a lot of places, almost too metaphorical for my tastes. I don't say this lightly, either. I appreciate poetry as a unique style of writing that incorporates a lot of tactics that would not be appropriate for most other styles of writing. However, the structure of Lee's poems in sections I and II were very confusing to me, and I couldn't even begin to guess where the metaphor ended or began.

When we discussed so
Peycho Kanev
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry

My son grows limp
and heavy in my arms,
and I don’t need to see his face
to know his eyes are closed,
his jaw hangs slack.
After hours of rocking, and pacing, and humming—
not a melody, but what
he likes, the single syllable his grandmother
has intoned to him since his birth, a monotone
nasal wail approaching mourning—
he’s asleep, and I’m too tired
to get up from his chair, too dazed
to close my eyes, so keep
gaping out the window at the winter
sky, an hour ago black, now a deep blue,
and even as I th
Miriam Rose
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beauty within pain.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2016
I had this referred to me almost a year ago and hadn't touched it yet. Thinking of these poems as a collection Lee Young-Lee builds a library of images, rains, gardens, flowers and activities the everyday moments of combing hair or coming upon a napping family member but the poems do so much more than that especially in their expression of grief.

Really I can't stress how well the poems articulate loss and in a totally interior moment. The poems almost in a Wordsworth way hinge upon pairing grea
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This isn’t just a book of poetry. It is a book of loss, grief, and the reality of our own mortality. It is an eloquent journal of the perplex emotions that losing someone you love brings. It is an observant look at the space around the poet’s life and a portrait of mundane beauty.

I thoroughly enjoyed Li-Young Lee’s poems in this quick read. There was a lot to ruminate upon and some truly breathtaking verses.

I know many who say, “I do not like poetry,” but I encourage you, especially if you do en
Caroline Mao

"always a rose" is hands down the best poem i have read in a while!! i really loved it SO much, i usually don't have good attention span for poems longer than like.......3 pages.....but this was!! great!! i also really enjoyed "dreaming of hair" and "water" ("water" was much better than i expected. it resonated w/ me) oh also "persimmons" but yeah overall i loved this!!
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, mfa, 2019
It's the most famous, popular, and considered of Lee's books and for good reason. The best poems are poems you'll come across out in the online poetry landscape. My favorites: "Eating Together," "I Ask My Mother to Sing," and "Visions and Interpretations." Not my favorite of his poetry collections but it's pretty much perfect. ...more
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The poems in this book manage to be at once firmly, richly material––filled with solid, sensual things––and ethereal, metaphysical.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous poems about love and mourning.
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undr
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chinese-stuff, poetry
I have a copy of this autographed in both English and Chinese. I bought and read it in the late 1980s when it was all the rage and decided to read it again to see if it was still as good in 2021 as I thought it was the first time. The answer is: yeah. There are a few poems, especially toward the beginning, that I thought were meh, but the collection finishes really, really strong. I especially love the long poem in the center, "Always a Rose," and "My Sleeping Loved Ones," which is so tender and ...more
feux d'artifice
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
i picked up this book all like, oh i really liked persimmon lets try the whole collection!!! and then was reduced to feels by part 3. rain diary was particularly soul wrecking i kept on rereading bits of it because the feels were so intense.
excellent poetry collection for intense father son feels
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A perfect collection. Staggering.
Clara Kwun
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Stirring poems using beautiful descriptions of nature, laced with memories, feelings of love, loss and details that evoke Asian culture.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
favourites: "persimmons," "from blossoms," & "visions and interpretations" ...more
Sep 10, 2016 added it
I think this stanza in "From Blossoms" (21) beautifully encompasses the way readers will continue to carry these poems inside them:

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

Having written about the world myself, I am also particularly enamored by these lines in "Dreaming of Hair" (23):

I'm tired of thinking.
I long to taste
Lane Brown
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Poetry, Free Verse
Plot Summary
A collection of memories, beautifully told in free verse
Character Empathy
Tender and immersive; his family is a main topic, and each poem made me feel like they were a part of me, just as they are a part of him.

Tone: What’s it Like to Read This Book?
Soothing like a lullaby. I could have finished this book in a day, but after a few poems I wanted to take a break and luxuriate in the impressions for a little while.

Other Shiny Stuff
At first I thought this was just
Jan 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: undergraduate English students who want to say they're into a seminal Chinese-American poet.
Recommended to Stacia by: Meg
I mean, I liked it all right. Not to be lame, but you can't write a free verse poem comparing your parents' old age, faded magnolias, and rainy days without coming off as a little trite. There were some good ones in there, though. ...more
Jonathan Tennis
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lee’s collection of poetry shows the reader how easily a villain can be both that and a hero as much of this work focuses on his tumultuous relationship with his father throughout much of his life and ending with his dementia and eventual death.
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Li-Young Lee is an American poet. He was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. His great-grandfather was Yuan Shikai, China's first Republican President, who attempted to make himself emperor. Lee's father, who was a personal physician to Mao Zedong while in China, relocated his family to Indonesia, where he helped found Gamaliel University. His father was exiled and spent a year in an I ...more

Other books in the series

New Poets of America (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • Falling to Earth
  • Whomp and Moonshiver: Poems
  • Beast Is A Wolf With Brown Fir
  • Rare Earths
  • Awayward
  • The Boatloads (New Poets of America Series)
  • An Unkindness of Ravens
  • The Eclipses
  • Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey
  • Walking the Dog's Shadow

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“There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.”
“EARLY IN THE MORNING While the long grain is softening in the water, gurgling over a low stove flame, before the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced for breakfast, before the birds, my mother glides an ivory comb through her hair, heavy and black as calligrapher’s ink. She sits at the foot of the bed. My father watches, listens for the music of comb against hair. My mother combs, pulls her hair back tight, rolls it around two fingers, pins it in a bun to the back of her head. For half a hundred years she has done this. My father likes to see it like this. He says it is kempt. But I know it is because of the way my mother’s hair falls when he pulls the pins out. Easily, like the curtains when they untie them in the evening.” 3 likes
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