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Usman
sharif

English
1210.01

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Darrell
Laird

Jan.
24th, 2018

 

In
Li-Young Lee’s “Persimmons,” how does the poem’s use of literal and metaphoric
meanings of “persimmon” help to develop a theme of love?

 

The poem “Persimmons” by
Li-Young Lee, persimmon is used throughout the entire poem for their literal,
symbolic and also their metaphoric meaning. The poem starts with the Lee
getting in trouble with the teacher and as his punishment he got slapped in the
back of the head and was put in the corner. In this first stanza we can tell
that the author is looking back to the past, when he first got punished for not
hearing the difference between two words “persimmon” and precision”. This is
the first of many stanza’s that occur throughout the poem and that add layers of
meaning to the poem and each of these scenes involves some kind of
misconception. Throughout the entire poem there are 4 other people that we
encounter, the teacher and lee’s wife his mother and father. The use of the
word persimmon, is the Chinese metaphor for human life: “tasteless and bitter
when too young, soft and sweet once mature (Eva).”

In the Poem Lee uses
descriptions of how to cut the perfect persimmon, how to choose, peel and cut
the persimmon, then “eat / the meat of the fruit, / so sweet, / all of it,
to the heart. “In this stanza we can see that the persimmons are being used as
metaphor for the heart and they are also being used for their literal meaning
as well.

this same pattern can be seen in his poem when Lee
talks about his parents, persimmon being symbolic his love for his parents and
his culture, this develops the theme of love in the poem. In the following stanza
we see that Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class to cut it open, “so
everyone could taste a Chinese apple.
Knowing it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat but watched the other faces” this
fruit is unknown to Mrs. Walker as she is calling it a “Chinese apple” it shows
her ignorance, it also represents Lee’s Love for his culture and heritage and
to him this is an insult calling it a “Chinese apple”. To Mrs. Walker “Chinese
apple” is nothing more than a mere fruit but to Lee it represents his culture,
and the hidden meaning of persimmon only the few will understand. The students
themselves cannot see the beauty of the persimmon, besides the sour taste, to
them it’s nothing more than a mere fruit, to them the secret of the persimmons
are hidden, so much of the fruit is hidden, that the real meaning of the
persimmon is difficult to find, its as though a veil separated us, we can see
outlines and shapes behind it but not the details but to Lee it represents the
love and the care he received from his parents and they what makes it special.

 In the Poem there is a deep and meaningful connection
being made, “My mother said every persimmon has sun inside, something golden,
glowing, warm as my face, this stanza in the poem holds a lot of meaning
because in our everyday busy life, we often take for granted what is there for
us, “persimmon” here can used to relate to people, objects, and even time that
we often take for granted, and then once its gone then we realize what we
missed. It also means that instead of being judgmental and superficial we
should look beyond the outward esthetics and rather focus on the inside, because
everyone has something special in their hearts, which only requires that you
look inside, this helps to develop the theme of love, because it only requires
you to look inside and appreciate its inner beauty, even for things as simple
as  a “persimmon”, This is also visually
trying to tell the reader what the fruit is like in a descriptive way, so each
person can appreciate the persimmon for what it is. Later in the poem the two
forgotten persimmons, is metaphor for connection and the bonding between father
and son, Lee’s father lost his eye sight but out of Love he manged to make 3
paintings.  

 

Throughout the poem the
speaker searches for something that is missing in his life. Perhaps it’s the
lost connection to his culture and heritage, which can be seen when he tries to
each Donna some Chinese, perhaps he felt stifled by western culture, this
highly civilized by strangely different culture, it may have begun to Paul
after some time, The fruit of persimmon is metaphor throughout this entire poem
for example “swelled,
heavy as sadness, / and sweet as love.” I think this line best summarizes
the poem, yet the persimmons are swelled with their rich taste, and their
exotic nature. Sweet as Love this refers to the love the speaker received from
his parents, this might sound a bit cliché but no love is greater than a mother
loves no care is greater than a father’s care.

 

Work
Cited

Lee, Li-Young.
“Persimmons.” Rose: Poems. Brockport: BOA Editions, 1986.

“Persimmon
From A to Z: 26 Things to Know about Persimmon.” Fine Dining Lovers,
www.finedininglovers.com/stories/persimmon-facts-figures/.

 

 

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