I Ask My Mother To Sing
I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.
But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.
Both women have begun to cry,
But neither stops her song.
Lee, Li-Young. Rose. Rochester, N.Y.: BOA Editions, Ltd., 1986.
Nostalgia for a place you have never been and fond memories of things you have never experienced. These become an integral part of our identity – the idealized and unreal images we carry with us. Was it Nietzsche who said, ‘art is worth more than the truth’. What are memories if not art?
I particularly like the image of the waterlilies fill with rain until/they overturn, spilling water into water,/then rock back, and fill with more. Almost sounds like he is translating a verse from Kalidasa’s Abhijñānaśākuntalam. :)
Lee on poets.org – here.