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This Hour and What Is Dead

This Hour and What Is Dead

by Li-Young Lee

This Hour and What Is Dead Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

This poem doesn't use a traditional form or meter, and therefore, it's written in a little thing we like to call free verse. But hold on a minute. Just because "This Hour and What Is Dead" is writt...

Speaker

Our speaker is an insomniac. Perhaps he's lying in bed, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. He's listening to every little sound and his mind keeps turning. Still, we can't help but notice that...

Setting

Setting? What setting? Lee drops us in the middle of a dark, inscrutable place in this one. Our speaker simply refuses to tell us anything about his physical surroundings. Yes, it's true that we do...

Sound Check

Overall, we would call this a poem that speaks softly and carries a big stick. It's quiet, with its subtle assonance and consonance, but there are also those heavy boots, that breath of gasoline, t...

What's Up With the Title?

The first thing the title does is set our teeth on edge. Any time we get "death" or "dead" in a title, it's a heads up to cue the somber music. "This Hour and What Is Dead" immediately tells us whe...

Calling Card

Li-Young Lee, judging by his poems, sure loves a good rhetorical question. In fact, he loves stringing a bunch of them together. For example, his poem "Hurry toward Beginning" has twelve in row, an...

Tough-o-Meter

The language is simple and the sentences are short, but there's definitely depth and mystery here. It's not always easy to figure out what's going on unless you're an insomniac like the narrator an...

Trivia

Lee's father was the personal physician for Mao Tse-Tung, former leader of the People's Republic of China. Of course this caused the family some political troubles, which is why they wound up in In...

Steaminess Rating

No sex here. Just a father, a brother, and God.

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