Study Guide

This Hour and What Is Dead Calling Card

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Calling Card

A String of Mysterious Rhetorical Questions

Li-Young Lee, judging by his poems, sure loves a good rhetorical question. In fact, he loves stringing a bunch of them together. For example, his poem "Hurry toward Beginning" has twelve in row, and fifteen total. Yep, we counted. In fact, there are only three sentences in the poem that aren't rhetorical questions. And while most of his poems don't have quite as many as that, it's actually rare to come across a poem by Lee that doesn't have at least one or two.

"This Hour and What Is Dead" is no exception. While it's not exactly jam-packed with rhetorical questions, Lee manages to get in at least three. We're guessing that something about the unanswerable-ness of these questions appeals to this poet. Posing a question that cannot be answered is pretty appropriate for a meditative poem, for a piece that wants to explore the mysterious quality of existence, or, you know, non-existence. Like, say, death.

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