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This Hour and What Is Dead

This Hour and What Is Dead

by Li-Young Lee

Exile Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Does he remember his earth, his birthplace set to torches? (6)

This line definitely plays with the idea of exile. You cannot go back home if your home has been burned down, and so the death of his brother is a form of exile. His brother can never return from heaven.

Quote #2

My father keeps a light on by our bed
and readies for our journey. (12-13)

We don't know about you, but this image gives Shmoop the sense that this father wants to be ready to make like a banana and split at a moment's notice. By itself, this quote is not very clear about what's actually going on, but when the word "fugitive" follows close behind, it helps nudge us toward thinking there's at least a suggestion that this family is on the run.

Quote #3

At this hour, what is dead is worried
and what is living is fugitive. (20-21)

Wait. Why is our speaker a fugitive? Aside from being falsely accused of murdering his wife (we're looking at you Harrison Ford), what other reasons could a person have for running away? Our speaker doesn't sound like much of a criminal. Maybe he's just fleeing the thoughts and memories of his loved ones so he can finally get a full night's sleep.

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