The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter

Ezra Pound

 
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about 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 look out?
At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-yen, 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.
        By Rihaku
 
"The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter" is based on the first of Li Po's "Two Letters from Chang-Kan." Copyright © 1956, 1957 by Ezra Pound. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.

Poems by This Author

Ballad of the Goodly Fere by Ezra Pound
Ha' we lost the goodliest fere o' all
Canto I by Ezra Pound
And then went down to the ship,
Canto XIV by Ezra Pound
Io venni in luogo d'ogni luce muto
Coda by Ezra Pound
O my songs
Come My Cantilations by Ezra Pound
Come my cantilations
Hugh Selwyn Mauberly [excerpt] by Ezra Pound
For three years, out of key with his time,
In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Notes for Canto CXX by Ezra Pound
I have tried to write Paradise
Papyrus by Ezra Pound
Spring . . . . . . .
Portrait d'une Femme by Ezra Pound
Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea
Sestina: Altaforte by Ezra Pound
Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
The Coming of War: Actæon by Ezra Pound
An image of Lethe
The Return by Ezra Pound
See, they return; ah, see the tentative


Further Reading

Poems About the Natural World
A Windflower
by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Amethyst Beads
by Eavan Boland
And the Intrepid Anthurium
by Pura López-Colomé
Atavism
by Elinor Wylie
Austerity
by Janet Loxley Lewis
Belong To
by David Baker
Butterfly Catcher
by Tina Cane
Crossings
by Ravi Shankar
Elders
by Louise Bogan
Escape
by Elinor Wylie
Farewell
by John Clare
February: The Boy Breughel
by Norman Dubie
Field
by Erin Belieu
Fish Fucking
by Michael Blumenthal
For-The-Spirits-Who-Have-Rounded-The-Bend IIVAQSAAT
by dg nanouk okpik
Four Poems for Robin
by Gary Snyder
God's World
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Imaginary June
by C. D. Wright
In a Blue Wood
by Richard Levine
In Michael Robins’s class minus one
by Bob Hicok
Kentucky River Junction
by Wendell Berry
maggie and milly and molly and may
by E. E. Cummings
Making It Up As You Go Along
by Bin Ramke
Monody to the Sound of Zithers
by Kay Boyle
Naskeag
by Alfred Corn
October (section I)
by Louise Glück
Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by William Wordsworth
Of Many Worlds in This World
by Margaret Cavendish
Pastoral
by Jennifer Chang
Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Poppies on the Wheat
by Helen Hunt Jackson
Prairie Spring
by Willa Cather
Russian Birch
by Nathaniel Bellows
Scandal
by Lola Ridge
Song of Nature
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sonnet
by Bill Knott
Spontaneous Me
by Walt Whitman
Tanka
by Sadakichi Hartmann
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy
The Gladness of Nature
by William Cullen Bryant
The Leaves
by Deborah Digges
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Noble Nature
by Ben Jonson
The Parallel Cathedral
by Tom Sleigh
The Wind and the Moon
by George Macdonald
There may be chaos still around the world
by George Santayana
Trees
by Joyce Kilmer
Two Butterflies went out at Noon— (533)
by Emily Dickinson
Vantage
by Alan Shapiro
Vision
by Robert Penn Warren
What's the railroad to me?
by Henry David Thoreau
Winter Morning
by William Jay Smith
Work Without Hope
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge