An Explication on "I Ask My Mother How to Sing"

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An explication of “I ask My Mother to Sing”

In Li-Young Lee’s, “I Ask My Mother to Sing,” four main stanzas are found; they are

elaborated with memory, joyfulness, grief, and pleasant remembrances. The speaker

implies tones of nostalgia as he remembers his father. The title “I Ask My Mother to

Sing” is clearly a song that the speaker begs for his mother to sing and the happiness of

that songs also make the speaker’s grandmother to sing along. The most important part is

what the song is about, this is implied throughout the entire poem in detail.

The first stanza is about what happens when he asks his mother to sing for him; it shows

two different generations that were born in China. The speaker also mentions his father;

he conveys that he wishes his father would be sharing that moment when his mother and

grandmother were singing. In a way he feels, like he wants all his family to be together

again and share quality time with his family.

The second stanza is referring to places that allows the reader to become aware that the

speaker is talking about China; he mentions all this different places that are China’s

icons, where the speaker has never been in, but he wishes he could have been to all this

places were once his parents lived or visited.

The third stanza, line 9 says “But I love to hear sung”, it means that although the speaker

has never been in the land of his ancestors; he loves to hear it through songs. This

expression makes the nostalgia the speaker feels so special, because the speaker is not

really yearning something from his past ; nor places he has been before; he just feels like

is something that is in his blood ; which is his Chinese backgrounds. This stanza is really

special, because it entertains the reader it makes us move and hear the waterlilies “They

overturn, spilling water into water, then rock back; and fill out with more”. Therefore this

stanza is...
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