Global Issue Presented in “The Nest”

As we studied the poem collection Green Rice, we each picked a poem to analyze. The poem I chose is “The Nest” and below is my interpretation to it.


The strand I will be focused on is Beliefs, value and education.

In particular: How education plays a role in the growth of children.

The poem mostly states how the egg, representing the child, stays alone during the process of hatching, and linked that to how the nest made with straw and grass, indicating knowledge and books, enriches the child’s life and ensures him/her to healthily grow until hatching. The poem is written in chronological structure, where the egg first “rises” (7), then becomes something for the nest, and finally hatches into “insistent life” (32). Throughout the process, the state of the nest is constantly brought to attention. At the start of the poem when “Mysterious silence deepens” (1), Lam uses the word “shake” (3) to represent the effect of silence on the nest. The word “shake” could be associated with the emotion of fear, and if the nest represents the knowledge as a whole, it is suggesting that knowledge left alone is vulnerable in the sense that it could be easily lost. This explains why the nest “shake[s]” as its been left alone. Then, as the egg appears in the nest, the knowledge is being acquired and thus the silence is replaced with “chanting voice” (6). On the egg’s (child) perspective, it gains knowledge from the point of birth and slowly turns into a “full” (10), “beautiful” (26) egg. Here the relation between education and the child is specified, and Lam points out how they help each other as they both gain benefits from the relationship.

The poem constantly mentions the symbol of “strands of straw and grass” (13), in my interpretation they could be books. Unread books are worthless and thus has no purpose of existing, this idea is illustrated in the fourth stanza of the poem where they are “woven without soul” (14). However, as the egg touches the books, as the child grows to a stage that he/she can read, the books “become musical strings” (15) both themselves and to the child. The next two stanzas describes the relation between the egg and the nest in more detail as Lam used similar structure to indicate the complexity of how they are affecting each other. The symbol of life and death is also significant as the poem progresses. The idea of an “ivory egg” in line 5 indicates that there are lots of sacrifices made by other people in order for the egg to exist. Furthermore, the exact phrasing appears again in line 26, but this time accompanied with the descriptions of “Dry grass and straw” (25) , as well as the direct statement of “death supports life” (27). In this case, the death could be seen as the knowledges that is already being learnt, and the life could be how new knowledge, new values are formed within the child. Finally, at the end of the poem, Lam further expresses the hope that is put towards the egg. Lam uses a simile comparing the hatching of the egg to “a sprout splitting a seed” (31) to indicate the continuation of life. The power of nature is appreciated and associated with the hatching of an egg, which on itself would be part of the cycle of nature. Thus, Lam extends the hope into “Many skies will fill with life” (34) at the end to emphasize the continuity of Vietnam and Vietnam people.

Overall, this poem “The Nest” models the relationship between education and the child, and thus expanding and connecting to the formation of any community.