Li Po, also known as Li Bai, was an 8th century Chinese poet, considered one of the greatest poets of the Tang Dynasty, China’s “golden age of poetry.” This poem was translated by one of his devotees, the 20th century American poet Ezra Pound.
The River-Merchant’s Wife
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 you, sir,
So bashful I could only hide,
My frowning face turned to the wall.
Called after – never looking back.
Fifteen before I learnt to smile.
Yearned to be one with you forever.
You to be the Ever-Faithful.
I to not sit lonely, waiting.
At sixteen you sir went away,
Through White King’s Gorge, by Yen Rock’s rapids,
When the Yangtze’s at its highest,
Where the gibbons cried above you.
Here by the door your last footprints,
Slowly growing green mosses,
So deep I cannot sweep them,
Leaves so thick from winds of autumn.
September’s yellow butterflies
Twine together in our west garden.
What I feel – it hurts the heart.
Sadness makes my beauty vanish.
When you come down from far places,
Please will you write me a letter?
As far as the farthest reaches,
I’ll come out to welcome you.