Friday Reads · Poems

First Line Friday 56 – #1 (Rose)

Kat @ Here There Be Dragons recently combined two Friday Book memes that she found, and it was such fun that I decided to play along on occasion. Here’s how she described the memes she mashed-up:

“First Line Fridays” and is hosted over at Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of current read. A good companion meme is the Friday 56, hosted by Freda’s Voice where you turn to page 56 in what you’re reading a find a sentence that jumps out at you.

So, as Kat did in her initial post, I’m going to pull the first line and a line from the 56th page of one of my current (paper) reads, Rose by Li-Young Lee.

First line (from the foreword by Gerald Stern): “When I first came across Li-Young Lee’s poetry I was amazed by the large vision, the deep seriousness and the almost heroic ideal…”

Page 56:

O weepers, stone
girls weeping stone tears,
will you never recover?
Were it not for the rain, I’d linger
and maybe I’d weep.

And because it’s still April and I feel like sharing a whole poem, here is one of Li-Young Lee’s other poems:


No easy thing to bear, the weight of sweetness.

Song, wisdom, sadness, joy; sweetness
equals three of any of these gravities.

See a peach bend
the branch and strain the stem until
it snaps.
Hold the peach, try the weight, sweetness
and death so round and snug
in your palm.
And, so, there is
the weight of memory:

Windblown, a rain-soaked
bough shakes, showering
the man and the boy.
They shiver in delight,
and the father lifts from his son’s cheek
one green leaf
fallen like a kiss.

The good boy hugs a bag of peaches
his father has entrusted
to him.
Now he follows
his father, who carries a bagful in each arm.
See the look on the boy’s face
as his father moves
faster and farther ahead, while his own steps
flag, and his arms grow weak, as he labors
under the weight
of peaches.



4 thoughts on “First Line Friday 56 – #1 (Rose)

    1. Li-Young Lee isn’t a poet many people are familiar with, but I fell in love with this volume after reading it in class, and so–unlike most of my school assignments–it’s on my keeper shelf.

      1. My Emily Dickinson and John Donne volumes are the two I kept from my college Intro to Poetry course. 🙂 We read a lot of more modern poetry, too — a fair bit of Wallace Stegner — but at the time, I wasn’t a fan of free verse. I didn’t start really appreciating modern poetry until 10 years ago or so, with a few exceptions.

        1. I also have a poetry compilation that was part of my coursework, but only a couple of volumes all by one poet. (Robert Frost is the other one I remember keeping.)

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