Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Poetry: Li Po/Ezra Pound

Li Po
tr. Ezra Pound
The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter

While my hair was still cut straight against 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
For ever and for ever and for ever.
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.


At 11:59 AM, Blogger tyromaven said...

Michael Ondaatje renders a modern version of the last few lines of this poem (something about a parking lot in an airport), and his reference is an even older poem, possibly original source material, something like:

if you love me and think only of me, lift your skirts and ford the River Chen


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