Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince's ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little gold slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
- Back to the tree and the dove, who we now know is a woman ("Mama") dove. This time, Cinderella's got a more direct request.
- Notice the simile: "cried forth like a gospel singer." Why this comparison? Well, it might have something to do with imploring God for help (in this case, the heavenly spirit of her mother, the dove). It's also the second time in the poem that Cinderella's been associated with African American imagery. First, she looks like Al Jolson, who (though he was white and wore blackface) imitated African American singing. Gospel music is also traditionally African American music. Is the speaker trying to encourage us to see Cinderella herself as associated with African Americans? Now what might Cinderella and a historically oppressed group of people have in common?
- Of course, the dove complies and sends down everything necessary for Cinderella to go to the ball—a gold dress and beautiful gold shoes.
- The last line of this little section is funny: "rather a large package for a simple bird." This really means, we think, "Yeah right. This is a fairy tale, isn't it? Don't believe this hooey."
- This is turning into an awfully cynical fairy tale.
So she went. Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn't
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.
- And the sarcasm continues: "Of course she went to the ball. This is a Cinderella story, isn't it?" We're obviously putting words in the narrator's mouth, here, but isn't that kind of what it sounds like?
- The rest of the stanza is plot that you might remember from the Disney version: no one recognizes Cinderella because she's so beautiful with her clean face and gorgeous dress, and the prince is instantly smitten.