Ezra Pound

(30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972 / Hailey / Idaho)

The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter


After Li Po

While my hair was still cut straight
across my forehead
I played at the front gate, pulling
flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing
horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with
blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of
Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or
suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never
looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with
yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the lookout?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river
of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise
overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went
out,
By the gate now, the moss is grown,
the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in
wind.
The paired butterflies are already
yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the
narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fu-sa.



Translated by Ezra Pound


Anonymous submission.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Rookie Edgardo Oreta (12/5/2013 12:14:00 AM)

    Li Po was A Tang dynasty poet, more famous for drinking songs than of marital fidelity.
    The poem is a delicate, almost subliminal one of growing love. It starts as childish acquaintance, growing to acceptance of the traditional pairing and marriage that ensued. It ends with the expressed deep love of the river merchant's wife.
    Ezra Pound was a fascist. But in poetry, perhaps, there is no politics, only insight, emotion, and sensibility. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Shiela Marie Anunciacion (11/9/2009 1:07:00 PM)

    this is a letter of dilemma and complain by the wife of the river merchant...

    it started with how they met, got married, the wife fell in love with her husband and how much the wife is waiting for her husband to come home...

    it tells about how much the wife trusted the husband that she needn't go to the watch tower and how much she complains that her husband was so long gone; furthermore, it shows her dilemma that maybe her husband, though she knew she trusted, would have forgotten about her...

    A nice poem.. ^_^ (Report) Reply

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