Did you find the symbolism effective in this poem? Why?  The day of the bride dawns Through layers of white plaster skin And multi-sashed kimono Head made huge by lacquered hair- She is swept...

Did you find the symbolism effective in this poem? Why?

 

The day of the bride dawns

Through layers of white plaster skin

And multi-sashed kimono

Head made huge by lacquered hair-

She is swept ashore in her glass bottle

White and tight as a folded paper message

Eyes hidden in a swirl of green boughs.

She moves like a mannequin

Manoeuvred by centuries of ceremony

Under the weight of speech and incantation

A wail of priests and watching families

Beside rows of low tables

With small triangles of paper

Congratulatory slits of squid and curls of seaweed.

Then kneeling at the end of a fresh memory

She is discarded by her heavy day

And is plunged into the twentieth century

Tiny apartment daily stream

As a barely visible

Folded paper speck

 

Expert Answers
lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The symbolism is quite effective in this poem. The bride moves like a mannequin because she is "manoeuvred by centuries of ceremony." The verb manoeouvred has a military association as a planned or regulated movement. This bride is definitely regulated in her movement. She does not have a graceful air of her own. She is forced to behave a certain way because of centuries of ceremony. She does not move down the isle with  exuberancy. She is rigid with ceremony. Therefore, she becomes nothing more than a "barely visible folded paper speck," weighed down by legalistic traditions which continue even today in the twentieth century into which this bride is plunged.    

              

mkcapen1 | Student

The poem yields a lot of symbolism of the traditional Japanese wedding.  The bride has her skin painted white, symbolic of virginity and the geishas.  On her wedding night she will surrender her body much like the Geisha's.

She is swept ashore like a genie in a glass bottle; the symbol of a woman being trapped.  A genie can not escape her bottle until her master calls her out.

She moves like a mannequin because it is symbolic of the good wife who will follow behind her husband just like centuries of wives.

She is in the twentieth century but for her life has not changed.  Like the paper that symbolizes something insignificant as a speck, she too is an insignificant speck as a wife.