The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter
After Li Po
by Ezra Pound
While my hair was still cut straight
across my forehead
I played at the front gate, pulling
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing
You walked about my seat, playing with
And we went on living in the village of
Two small people, without dislike or
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
At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with
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
You dragged your feet when you went
By the gate now, the moss is grown,
the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in
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