Introduction & Overview of For a Citizen of These United States by Li-Young Lee

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For a Citizen of These United States Summary & Study Guide Description

For a Citizen of These United States Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on For a Citizen of These United States by Li-Young Lee.

Li-Young Lee's "For a New Citizen of These United States" appeared in the poet's second collection, The City in Which I Love You, published in Brockport, New York, in 1990. Like the majority of Lee's poems, this one is based on his memories of a turbulent childhood, beginning with his family's escape from Indonesia by boat in the middle of the night when he was only two years old. The past often plays a significant role in Lee's poetry, for it is something he feels is always there— that, unlike a country or a prison, history is inescapable. But not all of the poet's relatives and friends who endured the same fears and upheaval of life in exile share his notion of an unavoidable past. "For a New Citizen of These United States" addresses a "you" who is not specifically identified but who appears to be an acquaintance of Lee's from the time of their flight from Indonesia. In this poem, the person spoken to is not enamored of things from the past, as Lee is, and seems not to recall any of the events and settings that Lee describes. Although the poem's speaker—Lee himself, in this case—pretends to accept his acquaintance's lack of interest and real or feigned forgetfulness of their shared history, his tone of voice and subtle sarcasm make it clear that he is frustrated by the other's attitude. This premise dominates the poem from beginning to end.

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This section contains 241 words
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Poetry for Students
For a Citizen of These United States from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.