Analysis of Cathy Song’s “Girl Powdering Her Neck”?





I'm having trouble with this poem. Can someone help me with themes/symbolism/overall meaning? I have to write an essay tonight potentially dealing with this poem, so as much help as possible ASAP would be very much appreciated. Thanks!Link to poem: [external link] …





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2 Responses to “Analysis of Cathy Song’s “Girl Powdering Her Neck”?”

  1. unpredicting says:

    This analysis is elegant and well thought out. It convinced me!Thank you! Report Abuse

  2. prexy says:

    Think of the poem as being about how a girl, a woman, becomes profoundly silenced even to herself when she’s transformed into a thing of beauty and pleasure.Probably the woman in the print is a geisha, right? A professional beauty — not necessarily a prostitute, more like a courtesan. (Many of those ukiyoe pictures were of the so-called “floating world” in Japan — just like French artists often used street-walkers as models.)Anyway, this girl’s life has come to center around presenting as a perfect object of silent beauty. Soft, dignified, unblemished — the long descriptions stress the elaborate artifice of beauty … it’s like every part of her is designed to deliver an impression of beauty.And then towards the end of the poem, this silent beauty’s lips suddenly part — as if she’s about to speak, as if she’s about to frown or question the fate that has turned her into … a beautiful object, a work of art.But then she lapses into silence again … and the poem closes with a potentially ironic description of her now silent lips. In other words, having not spoken — having not been used for speech, to speak her own mind or of her own life — her lips and face return to their inhuman, beautiful world — they’re described as two chrysanthemum petals floating on the calm lake of her face.So the point again is this: Women should be a little careful with a world that very much wants to turn them into objects of supreme beauty — because one risk there is always that beauty will equal the inhuman, right? Think of botox that freezes the facial muscles. Think of super-models carefully composed faces.When you surrender yourself to beauty, you possibly surrender much of yourself.