Which Structure Is Used In The Excerpt From“Little Father”?

by Amy

Little Father” is a poem written by Li-Young Lee, an American poet of Chinese descent known for his evocative and deeply personal poetry. The poem explores themes of identity, family, and the complex relationship between fathers and sons. Here is the specific excerpt from “Little Father” that will be analyzed:

Little Father

I buried my father
in the sky.
Since then, the birds
clean and comb him every morning
and pull the blanket up to his chin
every night.

Analysis of the Poetic Structure

Meter and Rhythm

The excerpt from “Little Father” does not strictly adhere to a traditional meter such as iambic pentameter or trochaic tetrameter. Instead, it follows a free verse form, allowing for natural rhythms that mirror the contemplative and introspective tone of the poem. The lack of strict meter contributes to the poem’s conversational style and emotional resonance.

Stanzas and Lines

The poem is structured into a single stanza, which enhances the sense of continuity and unity in the speaker’s reflection on his father’s passing. The lines are relatively short and vary in length, which helps maintain a sense of fluidity and movement in the poem.

Rhyme Scheme (if applicable)

“Little Father” does not employ a rhyme scheme in the traditional sense. Instead, the poem relies on the repetition of sounds and imagery to create a sense of cohesion and rhythm. The absence of rhyme scheme allows the poem to focus more on the thematic exploration of loss and memory.

See also: Does Haiku Use Punctuation?

Literary Devices and Techniques


Lee employs vivid imagery throughout the excerpt to evoke a poignant sense of loss and longing. The image of birds “clean and comb” the father every morning and tuck him in at night creates a visual and tactile impression that reinforces the speaker’s emotional connection to his father even after death.


The act of burying the father “in the sky” symbolizes the speaker’s reverence and admiration for his father’s spirit. It suggests a spiritual elevation and eternal presence that transcends earthly boundaries, emphasizing the enduring impact of the father’s legacy on the speaker’s life.

Figurative Language

The poem utilizes metaphorical language to convey complex emotions and ideas. The birds caring for the father’s spirit symbolize the ongoing nurturing and protection provided by memory and familial love. This metaphorical language enriches the poem’s thematic depth and emotional resonance.

Theme and Tone

The overarching theme of “Little Father” centers on memory, grief, and the passage of time. The poem’s structure amplifies these themes by creating a contemplative and reflective tone. The repetition of daily rituals performed by the birds conveys a sense of continuity and solace amidst the speaker’s profound sense of loss.

Comparison with Other Works (if applicable)

While “Little Father” stands out for its personal and introspective tone, its thematic concerns and poetic techniques resonate with other works by Li-Young Lee. His poetry often explores themes of family, heritage, and the immigrant experience with a lyrical and contemplative style that invites readers to reflect on universal human experiences.


In conclusion, “Little Father” by Li-Young Lee employs a free verse structure that enhances its emotional impact and thematic depth. Through vivid imagery, symbolism, and metaphorical language, the poem explores themes of memory, loss, and familial love. The absence of a strict rhyme scheme and meter allows the poem to achieve a natural rhythm that mirrors the complexities of human emotions. Overall, the structural elements used in “Little Father” contribute significantly to its literary merit and enduring impact on readers, inviting them to contemplate the universal experience of grief and remembrance.

FAQs about the Excerpt

1. Which word best describes Paul’s father based on this excerpt?

To determine the best word to describe Paul’s father, consider the traits and actions attributed to him in the excerpt. Look for adjectives that capture his personality, behavior, and role within the passage.

2. How is Paul characterized in this passage?

In literary analysis, characterization refers to the process of describing the personality, traits, and motivations of a character. To understand how Paul is characterized in this passage, focus on the specific details provided about his actions, thoughts, and interactions with other characters.

3. What kind of father does Paul have?

The nature of Paul’s father can be inferred from his behavior, dialogue, and the way he is portrayed in the excerpt. Analyze his relationship with Paul, his parenting style, and any insights provided into his personality to determine the type of father he represents.

4. What is the main purpose of the dialogue?

Dialogue in literature serves multiple purposes, such as advancing the plot, revealing character traits, providing exposition, or creating tension. Identify the primary objective of the dialogue in the excerpt by examining its content and context within the larger narrative.

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