Love at First Snapshot

Cathy Song’s published Picture Bride her poetry book in 1983. Although small, the poem gracefully moves through the theme of womanhood, motherhood, childhood, and family relationships. Song really enjoyed writing about her family. The main focus of Picture Bride was her grandmother. She talked about how she came all the way from Korea. This poem takes a very different look at immigration. Compared to all the stories we have already read in class. Unlike those that focused on being separated from their family. This one starts out happy sounding.

Song wrote, “She was a year younger than I, twenty- three when she left Korea” (Song). Making it sound as if this beautiful young girl left her birthplace to come to the United States. Then readers read the next line, “ the boat waited to take her to an island whose name she had only recently learned,” (Song). This makes it sound like she was not that interested in coming to American. Which is strange because, most immigrants could not wait to get to America. Where it was said to have streets that were paved with gold. A little farther down the poem it says, “And when she arrived to look into the face of the stranger who was her husband,” (Song). It clicks for readers. The title of the poem is not taking about a wedding picture. It is talking about an actual picture bride. A picture bride is when, an immigrant worker, commonly from Japan and Korea living in Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. Would select brides from their native countries via a matchmaker that paired a bride and groom using only photographs and family recommendations.

This sounds like a mix between online dating and arranged marriage. Someone else picks a husband for a young lady, whom she must marry. In the grandmothers case she had to leave everything behind in her country to go to a strange new place and join her husband whom she didn’t know. This poem should be used as a wake-up call to others. Once again showing people that immigrating to America was hard. Now matter how you got here. This story seems to have close ties with feminism. Showing that not giving women a choice in the man they marry is wrong. Women deserve to have just as many rights as men do.

Here is another picture bride story.

Song, Cathy. “Picture Bride.” Picture Bide. 1983. Print.


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