The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter Translated by Ezra Pound Originally written by Li Po
An Introduction Poem Text Poem Summary Themes Style
EZRA POUND born in Hailey, Idaho, in 1885 completed two years of college at the University of Pennsylvania earned a degree from Hamilton College in 1905.
After teaching at Wabash College for two years, he travelled abroad to Spain, Italy and London, where, as the literary executor of the scholar Ernest Fenellosa, he became interested in Japanese and Chinese poetry. He married Dorothy Shakespear in 1914 and became London editor of the Little Review in 1917. published in 1915 in Ezra Pounds third collection of poetry, Cathay: Translations
LI PO Li Bai (lived 701 – 762), also known in the West by various other transliterations, especially Li Po, was a major Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty poetry period. He has been regarded as one of the greatest poets in Chinas Tang period, which is often called Chinas "golden age" of poetry.
Scowling – to express with a frowning facial expression. Eddie - water that flows opposite from the normal flow of a river Lookout - act of observing or keeping watch
While my hair was still cut straight acrossmy forehead I played about the front gate,pulling flowers. You came by on bamboostilts, playing horse, You walked about myseat, playing with blue plums. And wewent on living in the village of Chokan:Two small people, without dislike orsuspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you. I neverlaughed, being bashful. Lowering my head,I looked at the wall. Called to, a thousandtimes, I never looked back.
At fifteen I stopped scowling, I desired mydust to be mingled with yoursForever and forever and forever.Why should I climb the lookout?
At sixteen you departed, You went into farKu-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,And you have been gone five months.The monkeys make sorrowful noiseoverhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out.By the gate now, the moss is grown, thedifferent mosses, Too deep to clear themaway! The leaves fall early this autumn, inwind. The paired butterflies are alreadyyellow with August Over the grass in theWest garden; They hurt me. I grow older. Ifyou are coming down through the narrowsof the river Kiang, Please let me knowbeforehand, And I will come out to meetyou As far as Cho-fo-Sa.
5 stanzas: the first of 6 lines, and the second, third, and fourth of 4 lines each.S Each of the first fourT stanzas is image-centered,Y focusing an emotional pointL in the history of the relationship between theE river-merchants wife and her husband.
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