In honour of our super ’70s episode, we decided to dedicate this moment in literary time to a poet who was actually writing during the period. Li-Young Lee is a Chinese American poet renowned for the zen simplicity and passion of his poems, a refreshing break from the angst of modern poetry, and he penned the most sublime poem about peaches, titled From Blossoms.
Of course, our guest Debra Oswald’s novel The Whole Bright Year is set on a peach farm in Australia in the 1970s, so it proves the perfect celebration.
Real fame only came to Lee in the mid 1980s, when he was nearly 40, but he has been celebrated widely since, and is one of the world’s more popular 21st century poets. This is an exquisite, evocative poem which, if you are new to Lee, is sure to leave you craving more. Enjoy!
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Credit: Li-Young Lee, “From Blossoms” from Rose. Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org. Source: Rose (BOA Editions Ltd., 1986)
Image Credit: Flickr Commons