Literary Analysis: A Hymn To Childhood

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In the poem, “A Hymn to Childhood,” Li-Young Lee talks about having fragmented individuality from childhood due to war. He is lost in perception of a traumatic childhood caused by war and a normal naïve childhood. Lee depicts the two diverged childhoods from his memory through the use of antithesis to emphasize the world perceived by a self fragmented individual. Throughout the poem, he consistently presents two opposing ideas to show what it feels like to grow up with emotional trauma. He descriptively tells the readers he grew up in a state of chaos due to war and that he did not have a peaceful childhood compared to normal kids. While he was afraid of the soldiers who are “strolling the streets and alleys” (line 8), the untroubled child in him was afraid of the “boarded-up well in the backyard” (line 4). Here, he contrasts the idea of home and foreign place by presenting different experiences that a child faced. He is showing an event that caused him to have fragmented self. He hints the readers lack of personal belonging because he has experienced war in his early youth. Whenever war takes place, people are likely to migrate to another place. As a result, the so called “home” no longer exists because of the idea of moving to another place for survival. Notice the way he uses the language of the two lines. While “strolling” has a connotation of being mobile, “boarded-up” is fixed in a place. In other words, while one childhood is unsettling because of war, the other

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