What is the theme in Li-Young Lee's poem "I Ask My Mother to Sing"?

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Li-Young Lee's poem "I Ask My Mother to Sing" is about the powerful emotion that can be both felt by singing and conveyed through song. The poem also suggests that the mother and grandmother's emotional reaction has to do with a longing for home.

The speaker admits that he has never seen the places referenced in the song nor witnessed the events described; however, he is still deeply affected by the way his relatives transmit the story through song. The speaker describes elements of the memories being sung about almost as though he has experienced them since they come to life so thoroughly in the song. By the end of the poem, not only is the speaker moved and nostalgic, but the singers "have begun to cry," and they continue to do so as they sing. Part of the reason the speaker is able to feel so much from the song despite never having seen the sights described is that the singers pour so much feeling into it.

The song probably connects to the singers' memories, possibly of home, and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 929 words.)

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