My Father In Heaven

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The poem “My Father, In Heaven, Is Reading Aloud,” written by Li-Young Lee in 1990, has a serious and consistent religious undertone as it chronologically describes the life of the poet growing older alongside his father until his eventual death. Countless possible understandings, expectations, and theories about this poem exist, particularly due to the poem’s tendency to leave the reader with vague qualities. Due to evidence both throughout the poem and the author’s life, the speaker of this poem is most likely Lee himself. Throughout this poem, there is a substantial amount of evidence which suggests that the speaker, or Lee, is remembering the times when his father was alive, the influence that he had on his life, and the changing thoughts…show more content…
The first stanza, in particular, opens with the speaker sometime after his father has passed away. He was envisioning his father doing certain activities in Heaven that remind him of his childhood, like “reading out loud / to himself Psalms or news” or how he spent time “listening for the sound of children in the yard” so he would know when he was needed (Lee lines 1-4). Aside from the constant addition of religious references, such as his father reading Psalms, or the last lines of the first stanza, “As it is in heaven, so it was on earth,” (Lee line 8), an assumption that makes the speakers religious life particularly evident and nearly indisputable is the fact that the author’s father was a Presbyterian minister. However, no matter how obvious the speaker’s religious life is, there is no clear answer as to if the younger version of the speaker does believe in what he has been taught. Despite this lack of evidence, the speaker does reveal in the second stanza that he is afraid of disappointing his father, with the line “[b]ecause my father walked the earth with a grave, / determined rhythm, / my shoulders ached from his gaze” (Lee lines 9-11). This piece of evidence can lead to the assumption that he is fearful of letting him down in every aspect of his life, including his religious

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