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Top 100 or so Poems - "The River Merchants Wife: A Letter" by Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound is one of the most remarkable characters in poetry - a legend, a true icon. Brilliant, genius, outspoken, political and radical - he spanned the entire 20th century as a central figure in 2 main areas - radical protest and the creation of the Modernist movement in Poetry, having edited, promoted, consulted, insulted, befriended and alienated such poetic giants as T.S. Eliot, E. E. Cummings, Yeats, HD, Gertrude Stein, Stravinsky, the Surrealists, William Carlos Williams, James Joyce, and so on.

His own poetry was brilliant if not radically inconsistent with his demands upon the greats. His poetry exhibited the required characteristics of Modernist poetry including frugality with words, using words which convey the complex feelings behind the work in a very simple way...but often his poetry was peppered with his complex notions about War (the first peace activist), politics (an outspoken advocate of Benito Mussolini, which landed him in prison), economics (he was truly the first "Occupier" - study his views on business and compare them to what is going on TODAY).

His most ambitious work in poetry centered around his "Cantos" series, which will be featured in the future on the eNOTHING blog. But here, for your enjoyment is one of his most popular and early works - which illustrates well his "rules" for the Modernist movement incorporating a style which is brief, static, and imagistic in approach.

Enjoy this classic from the influential madman of poetry himself!

The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter

by 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.

1 comment:

  1. This is Pound's very sensitive translation of the Tang Dynasty
    poet, Li Po (Li Bai).