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(New Poets of America)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,706 ratings  ·  145 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 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,706 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, favorites, poetry
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.
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.
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.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
This was almost 4 stars, but there were six poems that I absolutely fell in love with. Definitely one of my new favorite poets.
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
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.
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
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
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love every single poem in this book. I have probably read every one of Li-Young Li’s books, and this is my favorite. If you think I’m exaggerating about the quality, try googling “from blossoms”—the first hit is a copy of one of my favorite of his poems (that is in this book). I cannot read it without crying (but it’s not a cry of sadness, but a cry of beauty). He is another one of those poets who, even if you think you don’t like poetry, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll like him.
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!!
Austin Araujo
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, poetry, mfa
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
for this is noon,
time of rest, hour of tenderness
and the sleeping loved ones.

taking creative writing courses during my time as an undergrad is one of the most beautiful decisions i have ever made, wow.
Eric Phetteplace
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
if i hear another poet use a rose as a symbol i will symbolically vomit. way too sentimental for me.
Edgar Trevizo
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is outstandingly beautiful. Very sad too, but mostly beautiful.
Laura Raines
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love his delving into relationships that are always real, but changing, and the use of everyday imagery to speak to universal themes.
Susan Paul
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry-and-plays
It took me two times through the book to really feel as if I had read it. The verses that resonated the most were those he wrote about impressions of his mother and father.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. I wish I could give this book as a gift to every person I know.
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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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