Li-Young Lee's"Furious Versions"

A Struggle through Life with the Specter of Someone Else’s Memories
The poem “Furious Versions” by Li-Young Lee, takes the reader on a trip through the mind of a loving son reminiscing. This son is haunted by his father’s divided life, the distantly foreign life of his father’s youth and the lovingly familiar life his father started living in the son’s early childhood. Throughout this essay, I will show the facts that lead me to conclude that this poem’s central theme is of a son haunted by the circumstances of his father’s life.
The first verse leads precipitously into the son’s poignant predicament. “These days I waken in the used light / of someone’s spent life…” (Lee 13). As he awakens in the morning, the son is reminded and grapples with, the weighty heaviness of his thoughts. He contemplates the possible scenarios in his mind. Will he find himself living his own life, in America, his life of freedom? Or will he be lost in the memories of his father’s long ago life, the escape to America by boat with family in tow, the interrogation by soldiers whose pistol butts are stained with blood?  
In verse two, the son is walking through the nighttime darkened house where his mother lives, moving to the unlatched backdoor being slammed by wind. Spurred on by the black darkness, his mind transports him to a place where his father is hidden in a closet, soldiers sweeping the streets looking for him, soldiers asking his father “What color suit, Professor,

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would you like / to be buried in? Brown or blue?” (18). This scene is yet another example of the father’s history that has come to frequent the son’s conscious thought.
As the poem continues, there are many references to the son’s thoughts of his father’s life of turmoil before settling in America. In one verse, the father and son are walking in little Chinatown in Chicago and they come upon a couple of men that the father has known twenty years ago in the old country. While the men...