Beauty and Sadness
A Hawaiian of Chinese and Korean ancestry, Cathy Song centers her verse on island themes and activities and understated pastoral settings. Her language is Standard English inset with words and phrases from Pacific and Asian sources. She has gained credence for lifting the mundane from homely backgrounds to produce a lyric strangeness offset by teasing and, at times, startling analogies. The poem “Beauty and Sadness” is one of the poems in Cathy Song’s collection “Picture Bride” (1983). It illustriously paints a picture of how Kitagawa Utamaro, a painter of the Edo period in Japan’s history, perceived, and was able to achieve, the fragility of that period’s women in his paintings. Song expresses her own interpretations of his artworks, of the elegant yet often despondent female subjects of his paintings in her poem. By making use of poetic form and metaphorical language, she lays an emphasis on both the attractiveness and the misery of these women. Summary:
The poem starts with the “nimble man” who is unseen and observing the women around him. The poet describes the women in their loveliness and fragility around the society in the eyes of this man who is painting them with such mysterious aura and beauty. Song describes the women in the era with melancholic feeling along with their physical beauty and even their quiet, meekness and elegancy. Highlights:
A . as though they were bathing
in a mountain pool with irises
growing in the silken sunlit water.
Or poised like porcelain vases,
slender, erect and tall
In this line, we can see how the poet depict women as a creature who looks lovely and
strong as if they were no vulnerability in their soul.
B. They resembled beautiful iridescent insects,
creatures from a floating world.
In this stanza, Song uses a metaphor that women are like insects that are exotic but has
the power to make you caught your attention whether they may be small and...
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