Ways of Talking

By Ha Jin

Ha Jin

Ha Jin was born in Liaoning Province, China. He grew up in a time when books were burned and schools were shut down. Jin educated himself. He eventually came to the United States and attended Brandeis University and earned his doctorate. Ha Jin's writing varies from poetry to novels and short stories.

Ways of Talking

We used to like talking about grief.

Our journals and letters were packed

with losses, complaints, and sorrows.

Even if there was no grief

we wouldn't stop lamenting

as though longing the charm

of a distressed face.


Then we couldn't help expressing grief.

So many things descended without warning;

labor wasted, loves lost, houses gone,

marriages broken, friends estranged,

ambitions worn away by immediate needs.

Words lined up in our throats

for a good whining.

Grief seemed like an endless river--

the only immortal flow of life.


After losing a land, and giving up a tongue,

we stopped talking of grief.

Smiles began to brighten our faces.

We laugh a lot, at our own mess.

Things become beautiful,

Even hailstones in the strawberry fields.

"Ways of Talking" by Ha Jin

Interpritation of poem

In the first stanza, the author is talking about how the characters liked to be sad and full of grief and even if their was not much to be sad about.


The second stanza talks about how when sad things did happen it gave the characters a good excuse to complain and be sad.


The third stanza is talking about a big event that caused the characters grief and made them realize that they needed to let go of their grief and find happiness; to find beauty in the world.


Overall, this poem conveys a message to readers that they should not wallow in their grief and that they should find happiness.

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