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A Poem For Your Thoughts

Ezra Pound: The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter

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Davis Creach, Arts Editor

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Welcome back to A Poem or Your Thoughts, the only place on The Uproar to get the poetry you need by the poets you want! Let’s not waste any more time and dive right in! Each edition will include two poems, the first being a featured piece written by a famous poet that will be analyzed and interpreted according to my point of view. Of course, everyone’s interpretation is different and valid, and the comment section will be open for any further discussion. The second piece is written by yours truly and will be open to complete interpretation and analysis. Go forth, enjoy, and as you read, remember: “It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Poem One: The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter by Ezra Pound

After Li Po

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 Chōkan:
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-tō-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 Chō-fū-Sa.

 

Thoughts: Taking inspiration from Li Po, Ezra Pound writes his own epistual poem written from the perspective of the river merchant’s wife. It’s a beautiful poem of maturity and an undying love that was cultivated since the speaker’s childhood. The poem opens with the speaker recalling herself at quite a young age, hence her “hair was still cut straight across [her] forehead.” She meets the young Lord and at the age of 14 she marries him; but that is where the poem really picks up. We see the progression over the next few years of the speaker’s love for her Lord. Just a year after marriage she notes that she “desired [her] dust to be mingled with [his] / Forever and forever, and forever.” Its a touching line in the piece, as its raw passion and desire to be with her husband are unashamedly displayed by the speaker. In the very next stanza, after we are given this powerful statement of affection, the tone of the poem shifts because the speaker’s husband sets out down the river. There is a sense of sorrow and longing throughout the remaining lines, as both the river merchant and his wife feel the pain of separation. The speaker notes her husband’s reluctance to leave as he drags his feet by the same gate at which they used to play before their marriage; this is another powerful excerpt from the poem, as it connects their childhood innocence with the deep affection they now share in marriage. She concludes the poem by reinforcing the longing in her heart and also the devotion to her husband. The beach that stretches from their village, Chokan, to Cho-fu-Sa is hundreds of miles long, so I don’t think I need to spell it out for you, dear reader. She is so deeply in love, so devoted to her husband that she would walk hundreds and presumably thousands of miles to see her loved one again. Heartwarming and truly beautiful.

 

Poem Two: A Husband to His Wife by D.C.

At 26 I married you, my dearest.

With your hand in mine, I dreamed of a house.

A house that sat in a small, quaint field.

A far, green countryside where no one could interrupt.

A great oak tree stood tall in the front lawn,

Its branches resting just above the white picket fence.

 

At 32 we had our beloved child, my dearest.

With her small hand in mine, I dreamed of her future.

Her future that we would guide her through, just us two.

You would teach her to make a house a home,

While I would teach her to be polite and kind to all.

Those years felt like they would never end.

 

At 50 our flower left home, my dearest.

With your hand in mine, we cried as she drove off.

She was always welcome to return home to us.

That night was far too quiet, with only the sound of my snoring filling the empty house in the countryside.

It was just you and me again, a tag team of love.

 

At 76 you fell gravely ill, my dearest.

With your hand in mine, I took care of you constantly.

I read you poems, brought you meals, and kept you warm.

Day after day, your wish was my command, your need was my need, and your want was my want, because I loved you.

Because I loved you.

 

At 81 you left my side, my dearest.

With your hand in mine, you peacefully passed on.

I wept through the night, but was happy you were at peace.

I miss you so much, beautiful, but I’ll see you soon.

I sit in my chair, next to yours, and wait on the porch.

Sitting here, waiting for God to let me see you again.

 

At 99 I feel my day has come, my dearest.

With my pen in hand, I write these last lines.

Our little girl is all grown up; you’d be so proud.

I sit in my chair, barely writing these words to you,

And I think of how wonderful my life has been.

It flashes before my eyes, and I think of your last words:

 

“Handsome, I will always love you.”

 

-D.C.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article! Feel free to comment down below any poets or specific poems you would like to analyze and enjoy! See you next week, dear readers!

1 Comment

One Response to “A Poem For Your Thoughts”

  1. Gabrielle Kossuth on March 23rd, 2018 6:03 pm

    Absolutely beautiful interpretation of Pound’s poem; I loved how your take on it retained the spirit of the original but with your own, delightfully DC twist on it (“with only the sound of my snoring” is a genius line). Looking forward to next Friday!

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