Utsutsu wo mo Utsutsu to sara ni Omowaneba, Yume wo mo yume to Nani ka omowamu?
Since I am convinced
That Reality is in no way
How am I to admit
That dreams are dreams?
The verses and translation above are taken from A. Waley’s “Japanese poetry: The UTA” (Clarendon Press), as are many of the classical poems placed at the head of the chapters.
AN ANGLO-JAPANESE MARRIAGE
Shiranedo kaki no
Whether the fruit be bitter
Or whether it be sweet,
The first bite tells.
The marriage of Captain the Honourable Geoffrey Barrington and Miss Asako Fujinami was an outstanding event in the season of 1913. It was bizarre, it was picturesque, it was charming, it was socially and politically important, it was everything that could appeal to the taste of London society, which, as the season advances, is apt to become jaded by the monotonous process of Hymen in High Life and by the continued demand for costly wedding presents.
Once again Society paid for its seat at St. George’s and for its glass of champagne and crumb of cake with gifts of gold and silver and precious stones enough to smother the tiny bride; but for once in a way it paid with a good heart, not merely in obedience to convention, but for the sake of participating in a unique and delightful scene, a touching ceremony, the plighting of East and West.
Would the Japanese heiress be married in a kimono with flowers and fans fixed in an elaborate coiffure? Thus the ladies were wondering as they craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the bride’s procession up the aisle; but, though some even stood on hassocks and pew seats, few were able to distinguish for certain. She was so very tiny. At any rate, her six tall bridesmaids were arrayed in Japanese dress, lovely white creations embroidered with birds and foliage.
It is hard to distinguish anything in the perennial twilight of St. George’s; a twilight symbolic of the new lives which emerge from its Corinthian portico into that married world about which so much has been guessed and so little is known.
One thing, however, was visible to all as the pair moved together up to the altar rails, and that was the size of the bridegroom as contrasted with the smallness of his bride. He looked like a great rough bear and she like a silver fairy. There was something intensely pathetic in the curve of his broad shoulders as he bent over the little hand to place in its proud position the diminutive golden circlet which was to unite their two lives.
As they left the church, the organ was playing Kimi-ga-ya, the Japanese national hymn. Nobody recognized it, except the few Japanese who were present; but Lady Everington, with that exaggeration of the suitable which is so typical of her, had insisted on its choice as a voluntary. Those who had heard the tune before and half remembered it decided that it must come from the “Mikado”; and one stern dowager went so far as to protest to the rector for permitting such a tune to desecrate the sacred edifice.