Out of Hiding

by Li-Young Lee


Original Language English

Someone said my name in the garden,

while I grew smaller
in the spreading shadow of the peonies,

grew larger by my absence to another,
grew older among the ants, ancient

under the opening heads of the flowers,
new to myself, and stranger.

When I heard my name again, it sounded far,
like the name of the child next door,
or a favorite cousin visiting for the summer,

while the quiet seemed my true name,
a near and inaudible singing
born of hidden ground.

Quiet to quiet, I called back.
And the birds declared my whereabouts all morning.

-- from Book of My Nights, by Li-Young Lee

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

It's been too long since we last had a poem by Li-Young Lee.

Someone said my name in the garden,

while I grew smaller
in the spreading shadow of the peonies,

grew larger by my absence to another,
grew older among the ants, ancient


A child's game of hide-and-seek becomes a moment of magical awareness, of silence, of self-discovery.

under the opening heads of the flowers,
new to myself, and stranger.


That game of secret places and stillness, becomes the opportunity mystics of the great traditions seek--

while the quiet seemed my true name,

--the opportunity to disappear and, at the same time, to become profoundly yourself.

The poems title "Out of Hiding" hints at one other truth: Through this kind of hiding, we actually come out of hiding. It is a form of disappearing that fundamentally reveals us to the world.

Quiet to quiet, I called back.
And the birds declared my whereabouts all morning.



Recommended Books: Li-Young Lee

Book of My Nights Rose The City in Which I Love You Behind My Eyes: Poems





Out of Hiding