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Li-Young Lee
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Li-Young Lee (born August 19, 1957) is an American poet. He was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. His maternal 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 19 months in an Indonesian prison camp in Macau. In 1959 the Lee family fled the country to escape anti-Chinese sentiment and after a five-year trek through Hong Kong and Japan, they settled in the United States in 1964. Li-Young Lee attended the University of Pittsburgh and the ... more »

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  • Siobhan Mc Donnell (5/20/2013 8:26:00 AM)

    Li-Young Lee is a Bodhisattva

  • Amberlee Carter (8/15/2005 10:55:00 AM)

    Night. Mother wren, soldier heron, and pastor crow
    were all three waiting for the citizen seed to wake, to rise
    from his dark bed walking, to speak. The seed lay in a
    dead swoon. Somewhere, snow fell past a clock, and the
    seed slept. Somewhere, a man grew a beard and died in
    his cell, and the seed slept. A woman waited for her
    lover a lifetime, then swept her kitchen of leaves blown
    in from seasons upon seasons of trees the man left unpruned,
    the shears hung to rust in a lower branch, and
    the seed slept. A city closed its gates. The seed slept.
    What to do? Fretted mother wren. Stand fast, counseled
    the heron. The pastor, wise crow, spoke: only a hand can
    help us, and only a thief. For only a thief will know the way
    into a fortified seed. But where, asked the soldier, will we
    find such a hand?

    The wren looked here and there, in a hayloft, inside
    an old coat sleeve. The pastor ventured throughout the
    countryside. The heron guarded the sleeper. One night
    the crow found the hand lying under a thigh. The hand
    smelled of oranges and fish, and lay dreaming of oranges
    bobbing in the ocean, among the wreckage of crates, the
    fruit nudged now and then from below, nibbled by unseen mouths.

    The crow scratched a message on the windowsill,
    tapped on the pane, then fled. The hand, a
    blind thief, read the pecked sill with its fingers, then lit
    out after the bird.
    After many years the bird and the hand arrived where
    the tattered wren, in a cap of snow, stood by the heron,
    who wore a shawl of snow across his powerful shoulders.
    There, said the crow to the thief, and the hand approached
    the tiny sleeper.

    Children, I know you wonder how a hand may enter a
    place so narrow as a seed. The answer is the hand must
    die. So the hand lay down next to the seed, opened, and
    the three ravenous birds ripped up its flesh and gobbled
    up the blood, and put the bones in a sack.

    Once inside the seed, the thief, who had been blind,
    could see. He moved toward the heart of the seed, but
    found his path blocked by a book. Leafing through
    the book, he noticed many pages missing. Yet, even with
    missing pages, the book was too large to move, too high
    to vault, and too wide to go around. So he sat down and
    began to read the book with the missing pages. Reading
    first the odd-numbered pages, and then the even, he
    read out loud, while all one hundred rooms of the house
    of the seed echoed with the sound of a hand reading.

    Taken fron the book: The Winged Seed: A Remembrance

    By Li-Young Lee

  • Mark Robertson (3/28/2005 7:44:00 PM)

    Li-Young Lee is remarkable for his ability to put pain and love in the palm of hand. Many of his works are in major text books for U.SA. high school students. His 'The Gift' is one of the best positive father-son relationship poems that exists in the English language.

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