Study Guide

This Hour and What Is Dead Love

By Li-Young Lee

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The love of a brother. The love of a father. The love of God. Each one of these loves is addressed in "This Hour and What Is Dead." In fact, the word "love" itself pops up four times in this short poem. Love connects our speaker to the loved ones he has lost, but it is also a burden to him, because their memory is ever present. And God's love? Well, that's a whole different story.

Questions About Love

  1. What do the similes describing the love of the speaker's brother, father, and God tell us about the nature of love in the world of this poem?
  2. The speaker is clearly very attached to those he loves, but the dude is also trying to get some sleep, and his love for his dead relatives keeps him awake. How does he deal with this? Does it seem like a good solution?
  3. When our speaker tells us he's had enough of God's love, does he mean it? If so, does he want just a brief break, or do you think he wants God to leave him alone for good?
  4. The speaker talks about the love his brother and father and God have for him, but he never mentions the love he has for them? What's up with that?

Chew on This

In this poem, love is a burden, not a gift. While loving a dead brother may sound nice, for our speaker it's nothing more than a curse.

God's love is the real problem here, because God's love leads to the speaker's insomnia. The more God loves him, the harder it is for him to understand why God would allow his loved ones to die.

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