Introduction & Overview of Seeing You by Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine
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Seeing You Summary & Study Guide Description

Seeing You 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 For Further Reading on Seeing You by Jean Valentine.

Jean Valentine's “Seeing You” was first published in the 1990 January/February issue of American Poetry Review. Subsequently, the poem was included in Valentine's 1992 collection of poetry called The River at Wolf and then republished in the collection Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965- 2003 (2004).

Valentine often writes about her mother and her lovers. “Seeing You” combines these two subjects in an effort to show that the experience of getting to know one's mother and the intimacy of that relationship are similar to the experience of one's relationship with a lover. In particular, revelations of understanding—of truly “seeing” the mother or lover physically and emotionally—are much the same astounding turning points in life.

Valentine discusses in this poem a child's dependency on its mother for life and nurture as well as the realization that, despite her love, the mother has fears arising from the challenges of parenting. The resulting appreciation of the commitment of the mother deepens the relationship and brings joy to the child. There is also joy in falling in love, in getting to know another person who is absolutely a glorious wonder. As Valentine expresses in “Seeing You,” when one is in love, one wants to know everything there is to know about the other person, and so the impulse is to plunge into getting to know the beloved, much as one plunges into a lake and is immersed. The revelations are many, including the experience of ultimate intimacy, of seeing each other unclothed, literally and emotionally. “Seeing You” is a poem about that moment of revelation and realization that brings tremendous growth and happiness in a loving relationship.

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