From Blossoms

Li-Young Lee

‘From Blossoms’ describes the simple joys of summer. It uses peaches to explore the vivid interconnectedness of the world.

Li-Young Lee

Nationality: American

Li-Young Lee is an Indonesian poet whose family originated from China.

Readers enjoy his use of mysticism, themes of life and memory, as well as his use of silence in his work.

Key Poem Information

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Central Message: Small delights can help us reconnect with joy

Themes: Celebration, Nature

Speaker: A person eating peaches

Emotions Evoked: Enjoyment, Gratitude, Optimism

Poetic Form: Free Verse

Time Period: 20th Century

'From Blossoms' is a joyful poem that uses peaches as a central metaphor and is quite memorable among the poet's verse.

‘From Blossoms’ is a short, moving poem about the beauty of life and the profound interconnectedness of all things. The speaker experiences joy through the simple act of eating peaches.

The poem paints a picture of a roadside farm stand selling peaches in the summer. The speaker and his friends or family eat the peaches, thinking all the while about how those peaches grew from blossoms and what their story entails. The beauty of the moment allows the speaker to temporarily forget the challenges of the world.


In ‘From Blossoms,’ the speaker thinks deeply about the journey that the peaches went on before he ate them, luxuriating in the vibrancy and joy in the world.

The poem starts with the speaker buying a bag of peaches from a boy at a roadside stall. He and his friends found the stall by following signs that said “Peaches.” The speaker thinks about the journey that the peaches took to get to him, from the point when they were just blossoms on trees right up until he ate them. He considers what it means to eat something: it also means carrying the history and meaning of that thing inside him.

At the poem’s end, the speaker thinks about how some days are much more joyful than others. Something as simple as eating peaches can make it seem as though nothing could ever go wrong.

Structure and Form

‘From Blossoms’ has four stanzas. The first two stanzas have five lines each; they are called quintets. The last two have six lines each, making them sestets. The poem is written in free verse, which means that it does not follow a particular meter or rhyme scheme. Although this is a free verse poem, it does use repetition of words and sounds to create a sense of formal cohesion.

Literary Devices

  • Alliteration: the repetition of sounds at the beginning of words. This poem uses alliteration to create a sense of rhythm and continuity. The first stanza, in particular, makes use of alliteration with “brown paper bag of peaches / we bought from the boy / at the bend…” (lines 2-4).
  • Synecdoche: the use of a part of something to refer to the whole, or vice versa. The second stanza opens with an example of this unusual literary device: “From laden boughs, from hands…” (line 6). In this case, “hands” actually refer to farm workers who harvested the peaches. By focusing on their hands, the speaker gives, as it were, a peach-eye view of the journey.
  • Repetition: the use of the same words or phrases to reinforce meanings and themes. The phrase “from blossoms” appears several times, particularly at the end of the poem. Repetition creates a sense of the intensity of the joy that the speaker feels throughout the poem. In stanza three, the repetition of the phrase “not only the” helps establish the enormity of what happens when one eats a peach, for instance.
  • Metaphor: a direct comparison between two unlike things. In the third stanza of the poem, the speaker says that by eating a peach, one is also eating the orchard where it grew, the shade of the trees, and the days it took for the fruit to grow from a blossom. This is a way of speaking metaphorically about the history of the fruit; it is not to be taken literally.

Detailed Analysis

Stanza One

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

The opening stanza of the poem introduces the premise of the story. The speaker describes how he found and bought the bag of peaches from a boy on the side of the road. He and his traveling companions followed signs painted with the word “Peaches.”

The simplicity of this scene helps make it feel at once personal and universal. The experience of buying fruit on impulse from a roadside stall is one that will be familiar to many readers, even though the details of this particular experience are unique to the speaker. The poem opens with the words “from blossoms,” which is the only indication so far of the poem’s broader theme of history and connection. Readers are invited to imagine the peaches growing from small flowers into ripe fruit, a process that will be explored in more detail in later stanzas.

Stanza Two

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

In the second stanza of ‘From Blossoms,’ the speaker imagines the journey that the peaches took to get to him. They started out growing on trees with many other peaches. They were picked and packed into bins. From there, they were brought to the roadside. The speaker and his friends eat the peaches without washing them: their skin is still dusty. Far from being a downside, the taste of the dust reminds the speaker of summer.

This stanza draws the scope of the poem out beyond the day at the roadside and into a broader consideration of the process of agriculture. The peaches did not simply appear: they have a history, a provenance, and a connection to humanity. The poet briefly personifies the peaches when he describes their “sweet fellowship,” as though they are able to make friends with one another. This moment adds to the speaker’s optimistic and open-hearted approach to his experiences. In literature and poetry, dust often represents death. In this case, that narrative is flipped. Dust here represents summer, life, and the joys of eating fresh fruit.

Stanza Three

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
the round jubilance of peach.

The speaker thinks about what it really means to eat a peach. It is not a simple action in his view. Instead, it connects him to the peaches’ history, and he becomes part of their story. The speaker loves the peaches, seeing them as much more than just a snack. They are a beautiful result of many days of growth. He reflects on how lovely it is to look at a peach, hold it, and then eat it.

Although the speaker is talking specifically about peaches in this stanza of ‘From Blossoms,’ his idea of connection is more broadly applicable. Any time someone eats food, they become part of its story, from the earliest moments of its growth. The same is true of all actions in life that connect living things to one another. The speaker feels himself to be part of the world in a fully embodied way and implicitly invites readers to feel the same.

Stanza Four

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

In the last stanza of the poem, the speaker no longer talks about the roadside peaches at all. Instead, he muses on how wonderful certain days of one’s life are. These are days when one does not think about death, only joy. They are, the poem implies, unusual and beautiful occurrences. The peaches have provided the speaker with just such a day. They have reminded him of his place in the world and of the vital importance of joy.

Many people have had the experience of eating ripe fruit on a hot summer day. The ending of this poem suggests that such experiences are precious. Indeed, any experience that helps people feel this transcendent joy is precious. It is not every day that people can completely forget death. When they do get such an opportunity, they should cherish and fully appreciate it. It is unclear how far in the past the speaker had these peaches, but he clearly remembers it with great affection and even awe.


What is the meaning of ‘From Blossoms?’

‘From Blossoms’ is about connecting with the world through simple pleasures. It is not just about eating peaches: it is about truly appreciating the ways that everything in the world is connected.

What is the tone of ‘From Blossoms’ by Li-Young Lee?

The tone of ‘From Blossoms’ is jubilant. The speaker’s joy is barely contained as he describes his experiences. It is a poem that celebrates simple but extraordinary experiences.

What is the main theme of ‘From Blossoms?’

The main theme of ‘From Blossoms’ is joy. It is a poem about how some particularly wonderful days and moments can make people forget all their challenges and focus on their place in the world.

What kind of poem is ‘From Blossoms’ by Li-Young Lee?

‘From Blossoms’ is a free verse poem. Rather than following a linear narrative, it uses vivid imagery to convey a philosophical point about life. It is a poem that requires both the speaker and the reader to engage their imaginations.

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From Blossoms

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Li-Young Lee (poems)

Li-Young Lee

Li-Young Lee is an American poet born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. He has published five poetry collections since 1986. 'From Blossoms' is among his best-known works. It comes from his debut collection, entitled 'Rose.' The poem is a great example of Lee's simple but highly expressive writing style. Like many of Lee's poems, 'From Blossoms' is concerned with personal experience and the speaker's place in the world.
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20th Century

This poem was originally published in 1986. In many ways, it exemplifies the trends that were common in poetry at that time. The twentieth century saw a major shift toward free verse as a poetic form. It also saw a rise in poetry about personal experiences. 'From Blossoms' fits neatly into both of those categories.
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This is not the most famous American poem, but it is significant. Li-Young Lee influenced American poetry because of his own interest in Chinese poetry. His relatively simple but expressive style is reminiscent of both Chinese writers and many other American writers.
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This poem is a profoundly joyous and celebratory piece of verse. It is about the moments in life where people do not think of any bad things but simply move "from joy to joy to joy." The speaker celebrates peaches, the joy they bring, and the complex process that produces them. He also celebrates his own place in the world and his connection to other things around him.
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As part of the natural world, peaches form the central image of this poem. By considering the peaches' origins and growth over time, the speaker of the poem gains a better understanding of his own place in the world. His profound appreciation for and celebration of the fruits that he buys indicates his connection to the natural world around him.
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In many ways, this poem is a highly relatable piece for readers. It is about the sheer joy of eating fresh fruit on a summer day. The speaker describes this experience in vivid detail, allowing readers to imagine it and connect it to their own memories. It is common for poems to tackle topics like grief or loneliness, but poems that celebrate enjoyment are equally important.
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The speaker of the poem describes his experiences with a profound sense of gratitude. He does not eat the peaches thoughtlessly, but instead considers them in detail and even adores them. He considers the peaches in context as something that grew and developed over time before being harvested and brought to the roadside stand where he bought them. At the end of the poem, he reflects on how rare and wonderful such experiences are.
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The final stanza of this poem is particularly optimistic. The speaker explains that some days allow people to forget about all bad things, including death. It is striking that the speaker of the poem experienced such a transcendent moment from something as simple as eating peaches by the side of the road on a summer day.
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The speaker of this poem takes the time to truly appreciate the peaches that he is eating. He considers them as part of a broader context, admires each one for its beauty and flavor, and thinks of them as a way to better understand his own life.
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Although this poem takes place by the side of the road, it is inextricable from the world of agriculture. The speaker spends much of the poem thinking about the process of growing and harvesting peaches as they develop from blossoms into fruit. His consideration of this process helps him better understand his own life and the importance of the peaches to him.
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This poem is antithetical to many other poems that focus on death. It is a vibrantly alive poem. In fact, the speaker feels that on the day that he ate the peaches, he did not think of death at all. Instead, he rode a current of joy brought about by the fruits.
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This poem is set on a summer day and is fundamentally connected to the concept of summer. It describes a quintessentially summery experience of buying fruit from a roadside stand and eating it.
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Free Verse

This is a free verse poem because it has no set meter or rhyme scheme. Free verse poems maintain their structure through other mechanisms, including alliteration, repetition, stanza divisions, and similar line lengths.
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Sasha Blakeley Poetry Expert
Sasha Blakeley is an experienced poetry expert with a BA in English Literature from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. With a focus on Romanticism, Sasha has extensive knowledge and a passion for English Literature and Poetry. She is a published poet and has written hundreds of high-quality analyses of poems and other literary works.

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