English 1121(Prof. Scanlan)
April 11, 2020
The Unraveling Of a Portion of “The City in Which I Love You”
In the poem “The City in Which I Love You” (pg. 357) by Li-Young Lee, the speaker elucidates a desire to see someone again. It is unknown if Lee is portraying as the speaker in this poem, but it doesn’t hinder the message that is being conveyed. The speaker delineates that someone, possibly a loved one is missing from he or she’s life, hence the sad tone. By utilizing techniques of free verse, the speaker built a platform to express that feeling of living in a city void of a loved one. The first two lines of the poem, “Morning comes to this city vacant of you. Pages and windows flare, and you are not there” are beneficial to the poem, because it is essentially a small summary of the entire poem. It contains elements that describe the emotion, the plot, and the message conveyed through out the rest of the poem. These lines accurately represents the literary terms of symbolism, oxymoron and assonance to highlight despair and loss. My explication of these two lines will construe how the speaker uses happy words first, to then deviate to sadness.
From the first line, the word ‘morning’ insinuates a happy tone. It symbolizes a new beginning, new opportunities to take advantage of, and new memories to forge. There is a cheer, a certain happiness of saying “good morning” to someone, or vice versa. It feels as a promise that this day will be spectacular. Moving forward in the first line, “city vacant” is a classic example of oxymoron. The word ‘city’ denotes an inhabited place of greater size, population, or importance than a town or village. Next to it is the word ‘vacant’ which classifies as “not filled” when relating to a person. Both ‘city’ and ‘vacant’ are contradictory terms in conjunction, therefore an oxymoron. The speaker possibly made an oxymoron out of the two words to indicate the shift from happy to sad. The word “vacant” can be gaze upon as a sad term, since it suggests emptiness and loss. Ultimately, the speaker provides this first line to describe a new rudiment with a vacant spot of the speaker’s heart yearning to be filled by this loved one.
The next line also displayed a shift from a happy tone to a depressed tone. Starting with the first phrase “Pages and windows flare” exemplify a happy tone, because it alludes to daybreak, a time in the morning where daylight first appears and shine bright on objects like pages and windows. As mention before, things associated with morning are essentially positive. The denotation of ‘flare’ suggest this, since the word ‘flare’ is a sudden brief burst of flame, or light. Additionally, the word ‘flare’ connotes life. Humans tend to be brimming with happiness during times of the day especially in the morning, because waking up alive to see another day tends to bring a brief joyful emotion. There is also the word ‘window’ that emphasizes opportunities, and fresh starts, which the speaker believe it is there however, the loved one is not there to bask in this fresh start with the speaker. The emotion from that melancholy revelation, “and you are not there” depicts the speaker’s grief of the vacancy of he or she’s heart. From another angle, but similar “and you are not there” may emphasize pages and windows flaring a sight that the speaker find exquisite, but can’t look at it with that loved one, since he or she is not present to view such a beauty with the speaker. Assonance in this line came from flare and there, within the letter e.
The explication of the first two lines did indeed display the shifts between happy and depressed tones. The connotation of certain words construe a deeper understanding of the grief the speakers feels, and even hints at what a happy morning could have been if this loved one was around to enjoy it with the speaker. The speaker also seem to emphasize new beginnings, and new opportunities in those lines, that suggest that new great things are in the process for the speaker, and yearns for this loved one to be there, only to be disappointed. Though a new day always suppose to signify a promise for calm, happy day, the tone and language used in these two lines validates that a new day doesn’t necessary mean a good, exciting one, but yet another day of sadness and depression.